Stunning images captured on Earth and from Space of weather and climate-related phenomena and interesting objects or events found in our amazing universe
Scotland is hit by a major snowstorm on February 22, 2017. The University of Dundee Satellite Receiving Station captured images of "Doris" sweeping through the region. The storm has the look of a fully mature system with a "comma-shaped" cloud pattern. Colder air on the north and west side of the storm is moving over relatively warm water resulting in the distinct appearance to the clouds.
These two images were taken only 15 minutes apart on Valentine's Day (2/14/17) and clearly highlight a major storm system that pounded New England with heavy snow and strong winds. Some of the most powerful nor'easters that hit the Mid-Atlantic region and Northeast US during the winter season can take on the appearance of an "eye-like" feature - similar to hurricanes that form during the tropical season. The "eye-like" feature is more clearly seen on the GOES East water vapor image (left) compared to the composite image (right) at similar times (courtesy NOAA, University of Wisconsin/SSEC McIdas). The composite image is a combination infrared satellite data from GOES-East and GOES-West.
An all-out snowstorm pounded much of the Northeast US on Thursday, February 9th, 2017 and this satellite image shows it clearly in the upper, right. Narrow streamers of clouds extend from the low pressure system near New England all the way to the western Gulf of Mexico indicating the extent of water vapor intrusion into the system. [image courtesy NOAA/NASA]
The release of the first images from NOAA’s newest satellite, GOES-16, is the latest step in a new age of weather satellites. This composite color full-disk visible image is from 1:07 p.m. EDT on Jan. 15, 2017, and was created using several of the 16 spectral channels available on the GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument. The image shows North and South America and the surrounding oceans. GOES-16 observes Earth from an equatorial view approximately 22,300 miles high, creating full disk images like these, extending from the coast of West Africa, to Guam, and everything in between.
GOES-16, formerly known as GOES-R, is the first spacecraft in a new series of NASA-built advanced geostationary weather satellites. NASA successfully launched the satellite at 6:42 p.m. EST on Nov. 19, 2016, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NOAA manages the GOES-R Series Program through an integrated NOAA-NASA office. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, oversees the acquisition of the GOES-R series spacecraft and instruments.
Image Credit: NOAA/NASA
This bizarre looking cloud floated in the sky over ski resorts in Sweden on Thursday (Åre, Duved) prompting some to speculate that Martians had arrived for a day on the slopes. Many rushed to take pictures of the unusual phenomenon and posted them on social media. This happens to be a lenticular cloud which forms over mountain peaks when air is forced to rise up as it hits the hillside. As the air rises, it condenses into a cloud and they are often quite stationary with this type of "lens" shape. Normally these clouds will form in perpendicular alignment to the wind direction. These clouds are - not too surprisingly - often mistaken for UFOs.
"Ice balls" formed along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Port Sheldon Beach in Michigan, on January 14, 2017. The ice balls or boulders form when chunks of ice break off into the water and waves round them into spherical structures, according to The Weather Channel. The rare phenomenon was last spotted in Russia and sightings have been reported along the Lake Michigan shoreline in late 2016, 2015, and 2014.
The sun has been spotless for 6 straight days as we begin 2017 and for much of the time in the last month or so. Solar cycle 24 is weak and we are headed towards the next solar minimum. As a result, this blank look to the sun will become more and more frequent in upcoming months. (image from January 11, 2017; courtesy spaceweather.com)
On November 24, 2016, Tokyo received its first November snowfall in more than half a century. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image the same day. The snow fell in and around the Japanese capital, coating the metropolitan area and accumulating along some sidewalks.
The first widespread Great Lakes snow event has resulted in widespread heavy snows just downstream of the water (November 21, 2016). The perfect combination of cold Arctic air flowing over still warm water has generated snowbands oriented NW to SE in the air flow that has persisted for a couple of days. (Image courtesy NOOA/GOES)
GOES visible satellite image on Monday, October 24th, 2016 showing powerful 969 millibar storm just off US west coast and Hurricane Seymour to the southwest of Mexico.
Hurricane Matthew struck the western tip of Haiti on Tuesday, October 4th and this satellite image revealed some interesting features before it made landfall. "Ripples" can be seen extending outward from the eye and lightning flashes can be seen east and southern flanks. These ripples are called "gravity waves"-- essentially, waves of pressure and temperature excited by the upward motion of air from the storm below. Gravity does not vary inside these waves; instead, they get their name from the fact that gravity acts as a vertical restoring force that tries to restore equilibrium to up-and-down moving air. Similar patterns have been observed above powerful thunderstorms. [courtesy spaceweather.com; VIIRS day/night band]
This colorized water vapor loop shows quite well the deep upper-level low over the Ohio Valley and moisture riding up from the Carolinas into the Mid-Atlantic region. This pattern is likely to generate several inches of rain from central Virginia to central Pennsylvania (image loop courtesy NOAA/GOES; September 29th, 2016).
The southern tip of Italy is visible in this image taken by the Expedition 49 crew aboard the International Space Station on Sept. 17, 2016. The brightly lit city of Naples can be seen in the bottom section of the image. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft can be seen in the foreground.
Image Credit: NASA
Taiwan and mainland China are bracing for the approach of Super Typhoon Meranti, which is forecast to bring torrential rains and damaging winds on Wednesday, September 14th.
In the last 24 hours, the typhoon transformed from a Category 1 storm to a top-scale Category 5 hurricane. Currently, it is sustaining winds of 183 miles per hour (295 kph) with gusts up to 223 mph (360 kph). This visible image is from the Himawari-8 Japanese geostationary weather satellite. The storm is forecast to just miss making direct landfall over southern Taiwan and track through the Luzon Strait toward China.
Taiwan is home to roughly 23 million people. Fortunately, most of the population lives on the northern and western side of the island. Even though Meranti, which likely will still be a super typhoon at landfall (meaning the winds are in excess of 150 mph/240 kph) on the southern tip, the entire island will feel the storm's wrath.
The tropical storm-force wind field from Meranti stretches more than 350 miles (560 km) from one end to the other; Taiwan is only about 230 miles long.
Dangerous winds, however, are only one of the potentially devastating impacts Meranti will unleash on Taiwan and then mainland China. Torrential rainfall, which frequently accumulates to over 3 feet (1 meter) over the mountainous terrain of central Taiwan during typhoons, can produce deadly flash floods and devastating mudslides.
As the remains of Hurricane Hermine closed in on the Mid-Atlantic coastline during the Labor Day weekend (2016), it created some interesting cloud patterns in many areas. On Saturday, September 3rd, 2016, as if the atmosphere was mimicking the action of the stormy seas to its east, stunning wave clouds emerged over the western part of our region, near Frederick, Md. These clouds, known as Kelvin Helmholtz, form from wind shear. They break like a wave on the shore – the bottom layer of water moves slower than the top layer, and the top billows over and crashes (courtesy Washington Post/Capital Weather Gang). The Kelvin–Helmholtz instability (named after Lord Kelvin and Hermann von Helmholtz) can occur when there is velocity shear in a single continuous fluid, or where there is a velocity difference across the interface between two fluids.