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GOES Blowing Dust Detection - Basic Information

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Figure 1. Example of the Blowing-Dust image product over the western United States. The product depicts airborne blowing dust (when present) in yellow and red, with more intense dust in red. Light gray areas are clear sky and white areas are masked out due to clouds. See Figure 2 for a non cloud-masked image.

1) Product Information:

- Who is developing and distributing this product?

The Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) in Fort Collins, Colorado, together with the NOAA/NESDIS RAMM Branch is developing and distributing the Blowing-Dust Product.

- Who is receiving this product, and how?

The Blowing-Dust product is created at CIRA, and will be sent to NWS Central Region Headquarters, and then distributed to the WFOs as a product on their AWIPS.

- What is the product size?

The size of one east or west Blowing-Dust product image is 20 MB, with updates available every 30 minutes.

2) Product Description:

- Purpose of this product:

The Blowing-Dust satellite imagery product, developed at the CIRA, is demonstrated on the RAMSDIS Online web page for GOES-West only, because the "split-window" bands are currently available on that operational GOES satellite only. The product displays standard GOES Imager data in a unique way using simple image differencing and color enhancement. Inputs are the 10.7 um (more-transparent longwave) and 12.0 um (less-transparent longwave) infrared window bands from the GOES Imager.

- Why is this a GOES-R Proving Ground Product?

The Blowing-Dust product demonstrates a unique kind of imagery that is still available on older GOES Imager instruments and all GOES Sounder instruments (although at lower 10 km spatial resolution). The “split-window” bands will reappear in the GOES-R era. GOES-R will feature the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) sensor which will be able to produce both a higher spatial resolution (2 km) and higher temporal resolution (5 min) version of the Blowing-Dust product.

- How is this product created now?

Here, is a brief description of how the Blowing-Dust product is created from GOES Imager data:

The Blowing-Dust product can be computed from the two longwave infrared window bands available on older operational geostationary satellites, up through GOES-11.

3) Product Examples and Interpretation

The Blowing-Dust product is even better when viewed as an image loop. Real-time examples are available on the RAMSDIS Online web page for GOES-West only, but the product only infrequently shows blowing dust, usually during the winter/spring months when strong winds stir up the lowest levels of the atmosphere and particles are available to become dust. The best examples of blowing dust occur in the western or central U.S., typically over dry terrain, during strong wind events.

4) Advantages and Limitations

The Blowing-Dust product provides a simple yet visually powerful display of areas of airborne dust whipped up by high winds. The color enhancement shows blowing dust as yellow and red, with red as thicker dust. The (red) signature of blowing dust is rather obvious for larger areas of blowing dust, but less obvious for tiny patches of dust, that may only occupy a few GOES pixels, as sometimes seen downwind of the Sierra Nevada mountains.