TJ14.3 Characterization of Wildfire-Producing Storms Utilizing Satellite, Radar, and Lightning Datasets

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: 3:30 PM
North 231AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Douglas Kahn, Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL; and C. J. Schultz

Wildfires are one of the costliest and most common natural disasters that occur throughout the
US each year. Recent work has investigated the characteristics of lightning and determined that
many of the long standing metrics used for lightning-initiated wildfire may be incomplete for
identification. The launch of the GOES-16 allows continuous detection of lightning from space
via the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) and improved spatial and temporal resolution of
satellite observations via the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI). Coupling these new
observational platforms with existing surface models and remote sensing datasets, a more robust
physical understanding of the interface between atmosphere land surfaces can be undertaken to
better identify and understand the initiation and evolution of lightning-initiated fire events.
Therefore, the goal of this project is to combine ground and satellite based datasets to improve
understanding of the structure and electrical characteristics of storms that produce
lightning-ignited wildfires. A total of approximately fifty reported lightning-initiated wildfire
case days are examined to determine the parent thunderstorm’s structure and characteristics.
Furthermore, individual lightning flashes are examined in cases when the lightning flash that
ignited the fire can readily be identified to extract specific characteristics on flash polarity, flash
energy, and local surface conditions at the time of the flash. The overall goal of this work is a
predictive tool or algorithm for operational purposes of fire detection and prevention to
potentially save lives and mitigate property loss.
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