This grant supported observations of thunderstorms at Kennedy Space Center during the summer of 1995. In particular, we obtained detailed observations of lightning-producing storms over KSC with the CP2 radar of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), for the purpose of comparing these with observations from KSC's Lightning Detection and Ranging (LDAR) system. The NCAR radar was a special purpose dual-polarization system for studying the development of precipitation in storms and was at KSC for another project, the Small Cumulus Microphysics Study - SCMS. We used the radar on a non-interference basis to obtain the desired observations. In addition we recorded the electrostatic field change of the lightning discharges at two locations. Subsequent to the field observational period we compared the LDAR lightning observations with the storm structure as indicated by the radar. The results obtained to date are summarized briefly as follows: (1) The initial lightning sequence in a small developing storm was observed to occur in a region of the storm where supercooled raindrops had frozen within the previous few minutes. This is consistent with the idea that the storm electrification is produced by interactions between ice particles. (2) The lightning discharges tended to avoid regions of supercooled liquid raindrops, possibly indicating that corona from the drops reduces any electrification in the vicinity of the drops. (3) 'Bilevel' lightning discharges within storms have been confirmed to be between the level of negative charge at mid-levels in the storm and the upper storm level. This is consistent with and expands upon our understanding that storms have a basic dipolar charge structure. (4) The upward channels of the intracloud lightning discharges are often aligned with shafts of strong precipitation, and often begin just above the upper extent of 40 dBZ reflectivity in the precipitation shaft. This is consistent with a precipitation-based mechanism of electrification.
Meteorology and Climatology
International Confrerence on Atmospheric Electricity; Jun 01, 1996; Osaka; Japan