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Satellite RGB Composite Imagery analysis

1. Satellite data is good tool in nowcasting and is now available at high temporal
and spacial resolution. Imager data of clouds from the weather satellites has increased
dramatically with the introduction of hyper / multi spectral channel sensors. All these
channels give many information however most important are on the depth of clouds
(thick / thin), phase of cloud particles (gas / liquid / solid) and size (small / large). It is
a challenge to analysis and interpret all this data in a short time, as it requires skills
and experience to extract necessary information from the imagery.
2. RGB processing offers a simple yet powerful solution. The RGB composite
imagery is a technique to display a colour using the property of the three primary
colours of light i.e. "Red, Green & Blue". It consolidates the information from different
spectral channels into single products that provide more information than any one
image can provide. While grayscale images are still useful, they often cannot match
the effectiveness of RGB products. The advantages of RGB technique is that it is a
simple process and provides intuitive, realistic looking products that can reduce
ambiguities and simplify interpretation.
3. RGB composite imagery of the Indian region by EUMETSAT and Himawari-8
and 9 satellites are available at their respective websites for use on real time along
with training material. Even INSAT 3D & 3DR satellites give colour images (only Day
& Night microphysics) due to limited channels. A brief review on RGB composite
imagery interpretation is given below.
4. The list of satellites/imager channel used by EUMETSAT / JMA in RGB imagery
are as given below.

5. The WMO recommended RGB schemes and their utilisation are as given.
(a) Natural Colour RGB – This RGB is used in detection of snow/ice,
vegetation, desert and clouds, it is easy to distinguish between high-level ice
clouds and low level water clouds, but is available only in day-time. This scheme
is displayed by compositing two near infrared channels (B05(N2 1.6) , B04(N1
0.86) ) and (traditional) visible channel (B03(VS 0.64) ). These channels have
reflection characteristics for land/ sea surface conditions (such as snow/ ice
covered area, vegetation) respectively. The interpretation of Colours for
“Natural Colours RGB” is as given.

Example of Natural Color RGB

SNOW/ICE

DESERT

LOW CLOUDS
VEGETATION

HIGH CLOUDS

(b) Day Microphysics RGB - Is effective during day to identify convective


cloud (especially particle size distinction) and also effective for snow/ ice
covered area and the distribution of fires. This scheme is displayed by
compositing near infrared channel (B04(N1 0.86)) and infrared channels
(B07(I4 3.9), B13(IR 10.4)). The 3.9 micron image has reflection characteristics
for particle phase and size in cloud. This is helpful to distinguish cloud layer,
convective clouds and so on. Interpretation of Colours for “Day Microphysics
RGB” is as given.
Deep precipitating cloud Deep precipitating cloud (Cb Thin Cirrus cloud Thin Cirrus cloud
(pptn. not necessarily cloud with strong updrafts (Large ice particles) (Small ice particles)
reaching the ground). Bright, and severe weather). Bright,
thick, Large ice particles & thick, Small ice particles &
Cold clouds Cold cloud

Super cooled, thick water Super cooled, thick water Super cooled thin water Super cooled, thin water
cloud. Bright, thick & Large cloud. Bright, thick & Small cloud. Large droplets cloud. Small droplets
droplets droplets

Thick water cloud (Warm Thick water cloud (no Thin water cloud. Thin water cloud.
rain cloud). Bright, thick & precipitation). Bright, thick & Large droplets Small droplets
Large droplets Small droplets

LAND
MOUNTAIN WAVE-
LOW CLOUDS (THICK-
SMALL DROPLETS)

DESERT
LOW CLOUDS
(SMALL DROPLETS)

DEEP PPTN CLOUDS-CBs

LOW CLOUDS-
LARGE DROPLETS

(c) Day Snow-Fog RGB - Detection of low-level clouds and snow/ice


covered area in day-time only. This scheme is displayed by compositing two
near infrared channels (B05(N2 1.6) , B04(N1 0.86) ) and infrared channel
(B07(I4 3.9) ). These channels have reflection characteristics of near infrared
band for land/ sea surface conditions (such as snow/ ice covered area)
respectively. Interpretation of Colours for “Day Snow-Fog RGB” is as given.
Deep precipitating cloud Deep precipitating cloud*. Thick water cloud - Large Thick water cloud - Small
(pptn. not necessarily Bright, thick & Small ice droplets droplets
reaching the ground). Bright, particles - *or thick, high-
thick & Large ice particles level lee cloudiness with
small ice particles

SNOW

LOW CLOUDS (THICK-


LARGE DROPLETS)

DESERT

DEEP PPTN CLOUDS-CBs

LOW CLOUDS
(SMALL DROPLETS)

LOW CLOUDS-
LARGE DROPLETS

Night Microphysics RGB - Nephanalysis in night time


This scheme is displayed by compositing two difference images (B15(I2 12.3)-
B13(IR 10.4), B13(IR 10.4)-B07(I4 3.9)) ) and (traditional) infrared channel (B13(IR
10.4) ). This scheme is available for previous meteorological satellite, MTSAT series.
This RGB is effective to distinguish clouds with high cloud top (such as Cb) and fog
or low-level clouds because the difference of 3.9 micron is included in this scheme.
This RGB scheme is … • effective for low cloud distinction in night time (especially
St/Fog) • effective for thick Cb cloud distinction in night time • available
Interpretation of Colors for “Night Microphysics”
Day Convective Storm RGB - Detection of Cumulonimbus Cloud
Available to distinguish convective clouds with severe phenomenon (gust, tornado
etc.) Especially useful for the aim of Cb with strong updraft But in day-time only
This scheme is displayed by compositing “three differences”, difference of two water
vapor channels (B08(WV6.2), B10(W3 7.3)), difference of B07(I4 3.9) and
(traditional) IR channel (B13 (IR10.8) ), and difference of (traditional) visible channel
(B03(VS 0.64) ) and near infrared channel (B05(N2 1.6)). The phase and size of
cloud particles distinction is possible by these differences. For the above reason, fine
distinction of convective cloud with severe phenomena such as gust or tornado is
possible.
Interpretation of Colors for “Day Convective Storms”

Deep precipitating cloud Deep precipitating cloud (Cb Thin Cirrus cloud - Large ice Thin Cirrus cloud - Small ice
(precip. not necessarily cloud with strong updrafts particles particles
reaching the ground) - High and severe weather)* - High
level Cloud - Large ice level Cloud - Small ice
particles particles *or thick, high-level
lee cloudiness with small ice
particles
Dust RGB - Detection of Yellow Sand (Asian Dust)
Useful to distinguish and pursue dust storm or yellow sand, in addition to traditional
visible and difference images  But, as yellow sand and low clouds appear in similar
“pinkish” color, the RGB animation is helpful to distinguish them  Available for day
and night
B13 (10.4 microns) and B15 (12.3 microns) have opposite characteristics of absorption and scattering
for water or quartz particles. If the difference between B13 and B15 is positive, it would correspond
to clouds, which consist of the droplets or ice particles, and if the difference is negative, it would
correspond to the particles of quartz. This characteristics make it possible to detect the dust and
volcanic ash.

Interpretation of Colors for “Dust”


Airmass RGB - Analysis of air mass and jet stream
available for air mass analysis available for jet stream analysis available for day and
night
This scheme is displayed by compositing difference of two water vapor channels
(B08(WV6.2), B10(W3 7.3)), difference of (absorbing ozone) B12(O3 9.7) and
(traditional) IR channel (B13 (IR10.8) ), and (traditional) WV channel (B08(WV6.2)).
The Airmass RGB image is available for analysis of air mass and jet stream on the
upper layer
References
https://www.eumetsat.int/website/home/Data/Training/TrainingLibrary/DAT_2042888.
html
http://www.data.jma.go.jp/mscweb/en/VRL/VLab_RGB/RGBimage.html
https://www.meted.ucar.edu/training_module.php?id=568#.XBPPg2gzaUk