Physics Department Seminar University of Alaska Fairbanks

J O U R N A L    C L U B

Lightning – a Spark of Understanding
H. J. Christian
National Space Science and Technology Center, University of Alabama, Huntsville, AL




Lightning has been studied for centuries with surprisingly meager progress since the early breakthroughs of Franklin. There are numerous reasons for this lack of progress: lightning is complex, it is very energetic with large peak power - hard for in-situ probes to survive, it is spatially and temporally sparse – hard to place a sensor in an optimal location. However, modern technological advances and innovations have led to new remote sensing capabilities that are starting to peel back layers of understanding, while at the same time, revealing new mysteries. With improved understanding of how clouds electrify and the realization that lightning dissipates most of the electrical energy, remote detection of lightning has become an increasingly important means for monitoring storm development and severity. This will be especially true when the Geostationary Lightning Mapper is launched on GOES-R. This presentation will address our present understanding on how clouds generate electrical energy and how lightning in turn dissipates this energy. It will also discuss a few of the remaining mysteries in lightning physics and some of the new techniques being employed to address them.


Friday, 22 April 2011

Globe Room, Elvey Building

3:45 PM