This project investigates various aspects of thunderstorm electrification and lightning production in warm- and cold-season storms and storm systems. Our goal is to improve the understanding of electrical phenomena and to develop applications of lightning data for weather operations and forecast models. Possible emphases include storm modeling studies, lightning forecasting, or data assimilation into numerical weather prediction models. Modeling studies use three-dimensional electrified cloud models to explore the charge distribution and lightning produced in storms by a variety of electrification mechanisms. Cloud-mesoscale model results can be compared with observations to examine and refine the characteristics of model parameterizations and to better understand the storm processes that lead to the observed electrical behaviors. We are particularly interested in the inter-relationships of storm dynamics, kinematics, microphysics, electric fields, and lightning. Available observations for verification include microphysics and electric fields inside storms from aircraft penetrations and balloon soundings, lightning location and structure from a three-dimensional lightning mapper, lightning strikes to ground from a national network, and radar-derived airflow and precipitation fields. We also develop electrification and lightning modules to forecast lightning in standard numerical weather prediction models. Data assimilation research investigates techniques for using lightning observations to correct the location and intensity of deep moist convection during the assimilation period, to improve the initial conditions of mesoscale weather prediction models and improve their subsequent forecasts.
Mansell ER, Ziegler CL, MacGorman DR: Monthly Weather Review 135: 1732, 2007
Fierro, AO, et al: Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 72: 4167, doi: 10.1175/JAS-D-14-0374.1, 2015
Fierro, AO, et al: Monthly Weather Review 144: 4373, doi: 10.1175/MWR-D-16-0053.1, 2016
Thunderstorm; Electrification; Modeling; Lightning; Data assimilation; Cloud model; Mesoscale model; Microphysics parameterization; Weather prediction; Lightning forecast;