350 Specific differential phase observations of multicell convection during natural and triggered lightning strikes at the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing

Monday, 7 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Patrick T. Hyland, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and M. I. Biggerstaff, D. M. Jordan, M. A. Uman, P. R. Krehbiel, W. Rison, R. J. Blakeslee, J. D. Hill, and J. Pilkey

During the summers of 2011-2012, a C-band polarimetric Shared Mobile Atmospheric Research and Teaching (SMART) radar from the University of Oklahoma was deployed to Keystone Heights, FL to study the relationship between cloud structure and the propagation of triggered and natural lightning channels. The radar was operated in Range-Height-Indicator (RHI) volume scanning mode over a narrow azimuthal sector that provided high spatial vertical resolution every 90 seconds over the rocket launch facility at the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing (ICLRT) at Camp Blanding, FL. In this presentation, we will focus on observations collected in 2011. Seven successful triggers (with return strokes) out of 20 attempts were sampled by the SMART-R from June to August. Most of the trigger attempts occurred during the dissipating stages of convection with steady ground electric field values. Specific differential phase (KDP) showed evidence of ice crystal alignment due to strong electric fields within the upper portions of the convection over ICLRT around the time of launch attempts. Consecutive RHI sweeps over ICLRT revealed changes in KDP that suggested the building of electric fields and subsequent relaxation after a triggered flash. KDP signatures relative to other radar variables will also be investigated to determine the microphysical and convective nature of the storms in which natural and triggered lightning strikes occurred. Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) sources of the triggered flash channels showed a preference for horizontal propagation just above the radar bright band associated with the melting layer. This finding agrees with several past studies that used balloon soundings and found intense layers of charge near the 0°C isotherm. The propagation path also seemed to be related to the vertical distribution of KDP in some of the triggered flashes. A preferred path through areas of generally positive values of KDP suggests that triggered lightning channels may favor those regions of the cloud with net charge, possibly due to melting charging mechanisms, or areas where more active convection may be lofting supercooled liquid water and graupel particles, providing additional regions of charge that can be tapped by the propagating lightning channel. A comparison of natural and triggered lightning strikes with respect to the distribution of KDP will provide an indication of whether the propagation paths are similar.
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