January 12, 2013

Weekend edition: dust storm spotted from orbit and one amazing photo from Australia

Correspondent Commander Chris Hadfield on the International Space Station posted the image on the left of dust in the Pacific Northwest and asked if we know where it came from. Our friends at CIMSS have identified it as a duststorm coming from eastern Colorado and western Kansas. The NAAPS forecast system has picked up the dust in the image below right.

The PM2.5 concentration peaked at 17:00 local time in Cedarbluff, KS.

Photo credit: Commander Chris Hadfield (ASC-CSA) and NASA

And in Australia, the linked image here was seen as a dust storm approached the coast. Amazing.

Update: January 13, 2013

A band of moderate air quality indices has been stuck over southern Pennsylvania and Maryland since yesterday. Accompanying the particles is very humid air so we have had significant fog overnight with visibilities down below 1/4 mile. In the West, California, Oregon and Washington have numerous stations in the moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups range. Washington's Seattle basin has several stations reporting code orange (see US map below left). We get a peek at Seattle through the clouds but if there is particulate haze, it is below the high cloud.

The same occurs in the San Joaquin Valley where the MODIS AQUA image (left) shows considerable cirrus cloud. The Fresno AERONET site run by Carol J. Bruegge of JPL shows 0.1-0.2 optical depth yesterday. We are now setting up in Porterville, California (about 1 1/2 hours by car southeast of Fresno and 40 minutes south of Visalia CA) for the DISCOVER-AQ experiment. The UMBC MPL is coming online and we will be posting data from the Porterville site on our DISCOVER-AQ quicklook page. That site is being built slowly and will be operational by Wednesday when the first overflight of the NASA P3-B aircraft is expected to occur.

The particulate air quality in this part of the valley was in the code orange range last night and the PM concentrations are shown in the graph below.

Commander Chris Hadfield posted another image of a dust storm in the American "northwest". Likely that this was on the prairies like yesterday's posted image. This looks like a "haboob"-type dust front.

Photo credit: Chris Hadfield (ASC-CSA) and NASA

And again on the international front, Beijing has been experiencing horrible air quality. PM2.5 readings with the Beta Attenuation Monitor (BAM) are 447 µg m-3 as reported by the Twitter account @BeijingAir.

Posted by Ray Hoff at January 12, 2013 3:12 PM
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