Scientists Are Working to Predict Where Lightning Will Strike
Mar 21, 2014 12:18
Imagine if you could predict where lightning would strike. There's a whole lot of power to be harnessed from mother nature. That's what the folks at the University of Alabama are working on. They announced that their scientists are working to develop a system that might be able to predict lightning well before it strikes.
Supported by a two-year research grant from NASA, scientists in the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville are combining data from weather satellites with Doppler radar and numerical models in a system that might warn which specific pop-up storm clouds are likely to produce lightning and when that lightning is likely to begin and end.
While there is no operational lightning forecast system using radar, researchers using the existing Doppler weather radar system can get lightning predictions right about 90 percent of the time, he said, but can only give about a ten to 15 minute lead time.
The average bolt of lightning is often four to five times hotter than the surface of the sun and can carry an electrical charge between 30,000 and 300,000 amperes. Obviously, anything beyond one ampere is enough to kill a man.
There's also a more altruistic point with knowing where lightning strikes. It will help us determine the places that aren't safe to be at when there's a developing thunderstorm underway. It could be the next big thing in meteorology and help improve warning times beyond what we already have.
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