How NOAA’s new satellite helped track last week’s dust in Arizona

Blowing dust engulfed the Grand Canyon State on April 12th. The threat was being closely watched from space.

NOAA’s high-resolution GOES-East satellite provided minute by minute imagery, allowing Arizona meteorologists to track dust plumes close to real-time. In comparison, the older GOES satellites provided imagery every 10-15 minutes.

Dust particles may seem small, but these metal oxides, clays, and carbonates can easily be picked up with GOES East’s improved spectral and spatial resolution.

These dust storms are primarily detected through the satellite’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sensor. This sensor has two visible channels with 0.5 km resolution. Older generation only had one visible channel with 1 km resolution.

The minute by minute imagery was also helpful in fire detection. GOES-East can indicate new wildfire development by using special channels that can pinpoint hotspots. While no new blazes developed in Arizona on April 12th, GOES-East did pick up several new wildfires across Oklahoma.


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