S160 Integrating NASA Earth Observations to Monitor Thunderstorms and Assess Lightning Exposure and Risk in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan Region

Sunday, 6 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Christine Evans, NASA DEVELOP National Program, Huntsville, AL

Intense thunderstorms throughout the Hindu-Kush Himalayan (HKH) region have resulted in an upsurge of lightning-related deaths due to an increase in population. Partnering with the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), Nepal Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, NASA Global Hydrology Resource Center Distributed Active Archive Center, and NASA SERVIR Science Coordination Office, this study investigated lightning risk in the HKH region and the relationship between convective precipitation and lightning. The team plotted lightning flash point data collected by the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) aboard the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and International Space Station (ISS) to determine the locations where the highest concentrations of lightning strikes occurred from January 2000 to December 2017. Additionally, the team used TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR) data to determine areas in Bangladesh and Nepal with the highest precipitation totals. A Lightning Risk Map, created to highlight lightning-prone areas and regions with vulnerable populations, showed that populations in western Nepal and northeastern Bangladesh are at an increased risk for lightning-related injury. The team found a positive correlation between convective precipitation and lightning. The Spearman Rank Correlation value ranged from 0.32 to 0.83, indicating that areas experiencing heavier precipitation corresponded with areas experiencing higher lightning strike totals. These end products will assist the BMD and the DHM to increase hazard awareness and issue earlier warning times, allowing individuals more time to seek cover thus reducing lightning casualties.
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