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Lightning Campaigns

Tropical "Ocean" Field Campaign (Kwajalein)
Tropical "Land" Field Campaign (Brazil)


GOES-R PLT (Mar-May 2017)

The GOES-R PLT (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Post Launch Test) field campaign was a collaborative mission to validate the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) instruments aboard the GOES-R, now GOES-16, satellite. GOES-R is part of NOAA’s geostationary satellite fleet, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites - R series, and provides continual observations of primarily North and South America and the Atlantic. The GOES-R PLT campaign lasted roughly 9 weeks from March 21, 2017 to May 17, 2017, with 105.1 mission flight hours. The goal of the campaign was to provide a collection of coincident airborne, satellite, ground based, and near surface measurements of surface weather phenomena to test, validate, and improve the accuracy of GOES-R ABI and GLM measurements.

ACES (August 2002)

Based at the Naval Air Station Key West in Florida, researchers in August 2002 chased down thunderstorms using an uninhabited aerial vehicle, or "UAV", allowing them to achieve dual goals of gathering weather data safely and testing new aircraft technology. This marked the first time a UAV was used to conduct lightning research.

Aimed at better understanding the causes of an electrical storm's fury and its effects on our home planet, this study was a collaboration among the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC); The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH); NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Pennsylvania State University, University Park; and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., San Diego.

Tropical "Ocean" Field Campaign (Kwajalein) (Summer 1999)

In the summer of 1999, a tropical ocean campaign was conducted in the vicinity of Kwajalien Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). During this program, the convective aspects of the northern component of the ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone) which occurred in the central Pacific Ocean was investigated. The Lightning Instrument Package (LIP) flew on the NASA DC-8, and cloud-to-ground lightning measurements were obtained from a three station ALDF (Advanced Lightning Direction Finder) network operated by Aeromet, Corporation. For TRMM ground truth, MSFC looked at the possibility of modifying the existing systems or expanding the coverage of the network.

Tropical "Land" Field Campaign (Brazil) (Jan-Feb 1999)

During January and February 1999, tropical land campaign was conducted during the wet season in Brazil to coincide with the wet phase of the Large-scale Boispher-atmosphere (LBA) experiment. The experiment was to focus on the convection occurring in the rain forest region of Rhondonia (11 S, 62 W) in Brazil. Plans include the implementation of a dual Doppler radar and a four station Advanced Lightning Direction Finder (ALDF) network. The network is located in the vicinity of Ji Parana and will begin to collect data for a TRMM () validation field campaign. The lightning network will continue to operate for a minimum of 12-18 months with the assistance of Brazilian scientists.

TEFLUN (Spring 1998)

In the spring of 1998, the ER-2 (Earth Resources 2) LIP (Lightning Imaging Package) was flown in a 4 week field campaign called the TExas FLorida UNderflight (TEFLUN) experiment in support of validation of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). This field campaign focused on the U.S. Gulf Coast and especially on the priority TRMM ground validation (GV) sites in Texas and Florida.

MCTEX (Nov-Dec 1995)

The Maritime Continent Thunderstorm Experiment (MCTEX) was conducted from 13 November to 10 December 1995 over the Bathurst and Melville Islands (the "Tiwi Islands''), located approximately 50 km off the coast of Australia's Northern Territory. This international experiment was designed to study the vigorous life cycle dynamics, microphysics, and lightning produced by these island thunderstorms. The characteristics of these thunderstorms were obtained with a 4-station cloud-to-ground lightning network, surface electric field instruments, and a Doppler radar.

CAMEX (Sep 1993, Aug-Sep 1995)

The first two CAMEX (Convection And Moisture EXperiment) field studies were conducted at Wallops Island, Virginia during September 1993, and 21 August to 2 September 1995. The third in the series of CAMEX field studies (CAMEX-3) occurred during August and September 1998. CAMEX-3 was devoted to the study of Atlantic hurricane tracking and intensification using NASA-funded aircraft remote sensing instrumentation. The NASA ER-2 Lightning Instrument Package (LIP) was used to measure the DC and transient (i.e., lightning) electric fields, optical pulses, and atmospheric conductivity as the aircraft flies over the tops of storms. These data will be used to 1) investigate lightning-storm relationships and 2) provide validation for the TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) mission.

TOGA COARE (Nov 1992 - Feb 1993)

The Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) was designed to improve our understanding of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system. A coordinated study of thunderstorms and lightning was conducted during the intensive 4-month observing period November 1992 to February 1993. A network of cloud-to-ground lightning sensors was installed with sites on Kapingamarangi Atoll and near the towns of Rabul and Kavieng, Papua New Guinea. Electrical measurements were also made from the NASA ER-2 and DC-8 airplanes.

STORM FEST (Feb-Mar 1992)

The U. S. Weather Research Program, formerly the STormscale Operational and Research Meteorology (STORM) program, conducted an experiment called the STORM-FEST (Fronts Experiment Systems Test) from 1 February to 15 March 1992. The objectives were to study the mesoscale structure and dynamics of wintertime fronts, associated precipitation, and severe weather over the Central U.S. with the latest observing systems. During this program, the Lightning Instrument Package (LIP) was flown aboard the ER-2 high altitude aircraft.

CaPE (July-Aug 1991)

The Convection and Precipitation/Electrification field experiment was conducted between 8 July and 18 August 1991 in east central Florida in the vicinity of Cape Canaveral. The objectives of this field experiment were to 1) identify relationships between co-evolving wind, water, and electric fields within convective clouds and 2) determine the meteorological and electrical conditions in which natural and triggered lightning can/cannot occur. Research instruments included the ER-2 LIP (Lightning Instrument Package), NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) research radars, KSC (Kennedy Space Center) field mill network, and KSC LDAR (Lightning Detection and Ranging).

ABFM (Summer 1990, 1991; Winter 1992)

Airborne Field Mill (ABFM) Project, summer 1990, 1991; winter 1992 in the vicinity of Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The purpose of this study was to determine when weakly convective or layered cloud systems are electrified and to produce remote sensing tools to predict the electrification. The study was designed to address the existing launch commit criteria for electrified clouds that had the potential to cause triggered lightning discharges. An instrumented Lear 28/29 jet was used to penetrate developing cumulus clouds and measure the vector electric field and some simple cloud parameters. The airborne measurements were compared to radar to determine some of the conditions necessary for cumulus cloud electrification.

COHMEX (June-July 1986)

The COoperative Huntsville Meteorological EXperiment was conducted in the vicinity of Huntsville, Alabama during June-July, 1986. The objectives of this field experiment were to investigate the morphology, dynamics, microphysics, and electrical evolution of storms and the relation of storm electrical activity to precipitation and dynamical processes. The primary instrumentation used in quantifying storm electrification included the ER-2 LIP (Lightning Instrument Package), 4-station MSFC (Marshall Space Flight Center) lightning direction finder network, NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) research radars, and T-28 field mills.

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