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 Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis
13.12.2018 | National Science Foundation

nachricht NSF-supported scientists present new research results on Earth's critical zone
13.12.2018 | 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: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>