Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA Lightning Research Highlights Safety Awareness Week

22.06.2006
Lightning is four times hotter than the sun.

That statement usually gets people's attention when you tell them that fact. It is also a good reason to be aware of the dangers of lightning, especially as the northern hemisphere is entering summertime.


Three months of Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) data were combined to form a "lightning climatology map" shown here. This period corresponds with the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere and the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere. The red and orange areas indicate the greatest concentration of lightning flashes. Credit: NASA/MSFC

When summertime arrives officially on June 21, thunderstorms come along with it. As a result, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration named the week of June 18-24 National Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

A return stroke of lightning, that is, a bolt shooting up from the ground to a cloud (after a stream of electricity came downward from a cloud) can peak at 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (F). The surface of the sun is around 11,000 degrees F. Scientists determined that temperature more than 20 years ago by examining the light given off by a bolt of lightning.

About 2,000 thunderstorms are happening around the world at any given time, and more than 8 million cloud-to-ground lighting strikes happen per day worldwide. According to the National Weather Service an average of 67 people are killed by lightning each year in the U.S. and thousands of dollars' worth of property is damaged or destroyed. Lightning causes more direct deaths than any other weather event. In 2005, there were 48 confirmed deaths and 172 confirmed injuries.

People struck by lightning suffer from a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, depression and an inability to sit for long.

Many of NASA's lightning experts work out of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, located in Huntsville, Ala. Marshall manages and operates a facility with Alabama research universities called the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC). At NSSTC, researchers use data from NASA satellites, aircraft and from people on field missions to better understand the science behind lightning. This research could someday help forecasters better predict and alert the public for severe weather – from thunderstorms and tornadoes to hurricanes.

A couple of examples of what the NSSTC has done in lightning research include finding several cases in which lightning rates increased dramatically as severe storms developed. Since 2001, the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array, a project operated by Marshall and NSSTC for the state of Alabama and the National Weather Service has provided 3-D lightning detection over that region. It helps forecasters with the direction that a storm is moving, and helps improve their warning lead-times by as much as 50 percent!

In 2001, NSSTC scientists created a global "map" that shows where lightning happens around the world each year. The map shows that lightning avoids the ocean, but frequently strikes in Florida, the Himalayas and central Africa. Because the map shows most lighting occurs over the land, it means lighting storms are caused by the sun's daily heating of Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

In 2002, NSSTC scientists flew an "uninhabited aerial vehicle" or UAV into thunderstorms, and gathered information about them.

Scientists around the world have been using lightning data Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. The satellite was launch by the U.S. and Japan in 1997, and continues to detect lightning with an instrument called the Lightning Imaging Sensor.

In July 2005, NASA lightning researchers joined hurricane specialists from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and 10 universities for a month-long hurricane study called the Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes mission in Costa Rica.

NASA and other organizations continue to study lightning to understand it better and unravel its secrets. One thing that is not a secret, however, is lightning safety awareness and scientists urge people to act responsibly and seek cover whenever thunderstorms approach.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/lightning_wk_2006.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas
19.07.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events
19.07.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>