Collaborative Research: Understanding Relationships between Dual-Polarimetric In-cloud Microphysics and Satellite-Observed Cumulus Cloud Properties to Predict Lightning Character Grant uri icon


  • With this award, the investigators will examine physical processes occurring in growing and evolving convective clouds as they begin to produce lightning. The study will utilize: Satellite-based cloud observations and retrieved cloud properties, including time-series (5-15-min) of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) visible and infrared (IR) measurements; S-band dual-polarimetric National Weather Service Surveillance 1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) radar observations across the United States; Ground-based VHF Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) observations (e.g., over Northern Alabama, Central Oklahoma); Observations collected during the Cloud processes of the main precipitation systems in Brazil: A contribution to cloud resolving modeling and to the Global Precipitation Measurement(CHUVA) campaign; Retrieved aerosol observations from satellites such as MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and ground, such as from the AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET).The award seeks to address a fundamental question in lightning prediction: How does the combination of multi-scale processes influence total lightning production? The corollary to this is: How do we obtain a longer lead time (>10-15 min) in lightning forecasting?The specific goals are: (1) To improve understanding of the physical processes and precursory signals of lightning evolution within the 0-1 h timeframe through the collection and interpretation of high-temporal and spatial resolution space- and ground-based remote sensing observations of hydrometeor and aerosol type, amount and distribution; (2) To seek improvement in lightning amount nowcasting skill for longer lead-time (~30-45 min) and higher accuracy using combined data from geostationary satellite observations, radar and models; (3) To significantly bolster graduate- and undergraduate-level university education directly through transition of scientific discoveries to students, and indirectly via curriculum enhancements.The Broader Impacts will be improving understanding of lightning processes that are inherently difficult to observe, more skillful 0-1 hour quantitative lightning nowcasts, and exploitation of WSR-88D dual-polarimetric data. Improved lightning nowcasts will benefit the general public, and especially the aviation industry that suffer substantial costs due to lightning-disrupted ground operations. Relatively few studies have developed physical relationships related to lightning nowcasting using combined datasets with a focus on satellite data. Use of WSR-88D radar in conjunction with satellite is timely in light of new observations from the GOES-R Advanced Baseline Imager and Geostationary Lightning Mapper expected in 2016, and from the Meteosat Third Generation Lightning Imager in ~2019. In addition, collaboration with other university scientists and graduate students will further extend this research to the larger academic and educational community.

date/time interval

  • 2013 - 2018