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The UPC contribution to the Scientific Return of ASIM: ground-based observations and data analysis

Total activity: 4
Type of activity
Competitive project
Funding entity
Funding entity code
252.890,00 €
Start date
End date
Chorros, Descargas Eléctricas, Duendes, Electrical Discharges, Electrones de Escape, Elfos, Elves, Eventos Luminosos Transitorios, Gigantic Jets, Lightning, Rayos, Rayos Gama Terrestres, Rayos-X, Runaway Electrons, Sprites, Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flashes, Thunderstorms, Tormentas, Transient Luminous Events, X-Rays
The UPC Lightning Research Group is conducting research on atmospheric electricity since 2001. In 2005, the group joined the EU
Coupling of Atmospheric Layers project. That project investigated the electrical transient luminous events (TLE): sprites, elves, blue jets
and gigantic jets (GJ). Since 2008 the group has been working in five MINECO projects related to the ASIM, an ESA mission. The group
obtained the first intensified high-speed video of TLE and lightning discovering complex interactions. The group has established the
European reference Ebro Valley Laboratory (EVL) for lightning research. At the EVL the first Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) was deployed
in Europe allowing 3D mapping of lightning leaders. The EVL has other total lightning systems: a VLF 3D network and interferometers (3D
and 2D). Instruments for detection of high energy emissions and electromagnetic fields up to 20 GHz have been developed by the group.
The EVL has the Eagle Nest instrumented tower (2537m MSL) where lightning currents are measured and other instruments are hosted.
Overseas, the group has observation centers for TLE at the Caribbean (Colombia and Curaçao). In 2015 a small LMA network was
established as the Colombia ASIM Site. Most TGF and GJ are detected over tropical storms. An ELF sensor was installed in Cape Verde
to measure Schumann resonances and Q-bursts from energetic TLE parent lightning.
This project is organized into three main objectives related with TGF, TLE and lightning. These objectives are based on data from ASIM.
The general question we wish to clarify is the relation between high energy processes (TLE, TGF, x-ray and radio emissions), lightning
leader properties (e.g. speed, potential, altitude, type of process), the storm's charge structure and its environment.
Our 1st objective is to understand why not all thunderstorms and lightning produce TGF or gigantic jets, even in the tropics. Understanding
how the meteorological environment affects the electrical storm characteristics will now be possible thanks to our 3D LMA systems and the
advanced data analysis we developed for charge structures. ASIM will unambiguously locate (< 10 km) the storms where TGF originated.
Increasing our understanding of the TGF emission mechanism is the 2nd objective, using TGF data from ASIM and models at the leader
and streamer scale. The leader model takes a thunderstorm charge structure as input and simulates a lightning flash with its asymmetry
between opposite polarity leaders. The streamer/TGF emission model will be based on LEPTRACK. X-ray and microwave emissions of
natural lightning flashes to ground and high voltage laboratory sparks will continue to be measured and investigated. A new instrument
with a ns-gated imaging will be prepared for lab experiments to image streamers and leaders. In the field, a new 3D digital interferometer
which will be developed in our H2020 SAINT project will improve the resolution of lightning mapping. Our 3rd objective includes the study
of TLE observed by MMIA aboard ASIM and the analysis of Gigantic Jets using high-speed intensified cameras in the Caribbean. Upward
leaders from cloud tops will be another target for high-speed observations.
Our LMA networks in Ebro and Colombia have demonstrated its valuable contribution to the ground support. In this project we will upgrade
booth networks with 6 more sensors in each one. That will increase the range and the resolution for the ground support of ASIM.


Scientific and technological production

1 to 4 of 4 results
  • Polarimetric radar characteristics of lightning initiation and propagating channels

     Figueras, J.; Pineda, N.; Besic, N.; Grazioli, J.; Hering, A.; Van Der Velde, O.; Romero, D.; Sunjerga, A.; Mostajabi, A.; Azadifar, M.; Rubinstein, M.; Montaña, J.; Germann, U.; Rachidi-Haeri , F.
    Atmospheric measurement techniques
    Vol. 12, num. 5, p. 2881-2911
    DOI: 10.5194/amt-12-2881-2019
    Date of publication: 2019-05-27
    Journal article
  • On the TGF/lightning ratio asymmetry  Open access

     Fabro, F.; Montaña, J.; Van Der Velde, O.; Pineda, N.; Williams, E.R.
    Journal of geophysical research: atmospheres
    p. 1-31
    DOI: 10.1029/2018JD030075
    Date of publication: 2019-05-14
    Journal article
    Access to the full text
  • Charge structure of two tropical thunderstorms in Colombia  Open access

     Lopez, J.; Montaña, J.; Van Der Velde, O.; Pineda, N.; Salvador, A.; Romero, D.; Aranguren-Fino, H.; Taborda, J.
    Journal of geophysical research: atmospheres
    DOI: 10.1029/2018JD029188
    Date of publication: 2019-04-23
    Journal article
    Access to the full text
  • A closer look at lightning reveals needle-like structures

     Williams, E.R.; Montaña, J.
    Vol. 568, p. 319-320
    DOI: 10.1038/d41586-019-01178-7
    Date of publication: 2019-04-17
    Journal article