10 July 2018
The new GOES-16 satellite produces stunning images every day of weather phenomena, but this is something that surprised me!
The NWS at Grand Forks in North Dakota posted the image below on Twitter today. Note the yellow speckles in the upper part of the image.
That’s Canola. The bright yellow is visible from space using the true color GOES-16 images. With the increased reflectivity (albedo) of the ground, I wondered how much the bright yellow Canola fields are cooling the temperatures in that area. That can be answered: I looked at the surface temperatures using the thermal IR channel from the NASA Aqua and Terra satellites.
Sure enough, it shows up!
The next time someone tells you that human activity cannot possibly affect the weather, show them this. You could also show them the image below from around Midnight Tuesday morning. It shows the urban heat island effect around DC and Baltimore on a clear night with light winds.