Lightning Mapping Observations during STEPS 2000

New Mexico Tech Lightning Mapping Group

Paul Krehbiel, William Rison, Ronald Thomas
Timothy Hamlin, Jeremiah Harlin, Mark Stanley
Michael Jones, Jarrod Lombardo, Demian Shown

Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research
Geophysical Research Center

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Socorro, New Mexico 87801

The New Mexico Tech Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) was operated in the STEPS project area from mid-May to mid-August, 2000. Thirteen measurement stations were deployed over a four-county area in northwestern Kansas and eastern Colorado. The system locates the sources of impulsive VHF radio signals from the lightning by accurately measuring the time that the signals arrive at the different receiving stations. Each station listens for the lightning signals in an unused television channel, in the case Channel 3 (60-66 MHz). The arrival times are measured with 50 ns accuracy using a special PC-based digitizer card coupled to a GPS receiver. The measurements enable us to obtain accurate 3-dimensional pictures of the lightning inside storms.

Each of the mapping stations was connected to an operations center in Goodland, Kansas via wireless high-speed communications links. The links were used to remotely monitor and control the station operation and for real-time processing of the observations. Shown below is an example of real-time observations obtained with the system.

Real-Time Lightning Observations on July 3, 2000

Above is an overview of slightly more than an hour of lightning activity over the tri-state Kansas/Colorado/Nebraska area on July 3, 2000. The colors indicate the time sequence of the data, with red being most recent. The locations of the measurement stations are indicated by the green squares. The mapping network located the lightning activity over an area 400-500 kilometers (250-300 miles) in diameter, with the maximum range being limited by the radio horizon. The lightning is imaged in three dimensions in the vicinity of the network, gradually decreasing to two dimensions with increasing range. The increase in the minimum altitude of the sources with distance is due to the curvature of the earth.

Some Interesting Observations:

[Go to main LMA page] Go to the main Lightning Mapping Network page
Last Modifications made on Wed Jul 26 22:04:25 MDT 2000