Second Conference on Meteorological Applications of Lightning Data


Lightning: Meteorology's New Tool

Nicole Kufa, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach, FL; and R. K. Snow

Lightning in thunderstorms is very complex. Scientists are not yet sure exactly how lightning forms, and why it acts the way it does. Recently, there have been a number of discoveries of new types of electrical discharges that exist above thunderclouds, as well as observations of unique lightning patterns that happen during the development of severe storms over the central plains of America. In particular, many studies examine the role of positive polarity cloud-to-ground lightning in predicting the environment of a storm and its ability to produce tornadoes. For example, one such study revealed that twice as much positive polarity cloud-to-ground lightning occurred in thunderstorms that developed in smoke polluted air. Another study found evidence to support the idea that a thundercloud's charge structure is affected by the mesoscale environment into which it moves. Other studies analyzed shifts in lightning polarity preceding the formation of a tornado, while they also found that lightning is not produced in regions of strong updrafts in thunderstorms. Furthermore, the ability of a thunderstorm to invert its charge has been revealed by recent studies. This research discusses the discovery of unique lightning patterns, which makes thunderstorm electrification even more mysterious, but at the same time opens up the possibility for scientists to be able to better forecast severe storm development.

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Poster Session 1, Advances in Technology and Operational Utility of Lightning Data
Monday, 30 January 2006, 2:30 PM-4:00 PM, Exhibit Hall A2

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