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Title: Detecting lightning infrasound using a high-altitude balloon

Abstract

Acoustic waves with a wide range of frequencies are generated by lightning strokes during thunderstorms, including infrasonic waves (0.1 to 20 Hz). The source mechanism for these low frequency acoustic waves is still debated and studies have so far been limited to ground–based instruments. Here we report the first confirmed detection of lightning generated infrasound with acoustic instruments suspended at stratospheric altitudes using a free–flying balloon. We observe high–amplitude signals generated by lightning strokes located within 100 km of the balloon as it flew over the Tasman Sea on 17 May 2016. The signals share many characteristics with waveforms recorded previously by ground–based instruments near thunderstorms. The ability to measure lightning activity with high–altitude infrasound instruments has demonstrated the potential for using these platforms to image the full acoustic wavefield in the atmosphere. In conclusion, it validates the use of these platforms for recording and characterizing infrasonic sources located beyond the detection range of ground–based instruments.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]
  1. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC (United States)
  2. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1459936
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1459918; OSTI ID: 1459927; OSTI ID: 1461011
Report Number(s):
SAND-2018-6781J
Journal ID: ISSN 0094-8276; 664907
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC04-94AL85000; NA0003525
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Geophysical Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 45; Journal Issue: 14; Journal ID: ISSN 0094-8276
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; lightning; infrasound; high-altitude balloon

Citation Formats

Lamb, Oliver D., Lees, Jonathan M., and Bowman, Daniel C. Detecting lightning infrasound using a high-altitude balloon. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1029/2018GL078401.
Lamb, Oliver D., Lees, Jonathan M., & Bowman, Daniel C. Detecting lightning infrasound using a high-altitude balloon. United States. doi:10.1029/2018GL078401.
Lamb, Oliver D., Lees, Jonathan M., and Bowman, Daniel C. Fri . "Detecting lightning infrasound using a high-altitude balloon". United States. doi:10.1029/2018GL078401. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1459936.
@article{osti_1459936,
title = {Detecting lightning infrasound using a high-altitude balloon},
author = {Lamb, Oliver D. and Lees, Jonathan M. and Bowman, Daniel C.},
abstractNote = {Acoustic waves with a wide range of frequencies are generated by lightning strokes during thunderstorms, including infrasonic waves (0.1 to 20 Hz). The source mechanism for these low frequency acoustic waves is still debated and studies have so far been limited to ground–based instruments. Here we report the first confirmed detection of lightning generated infrasound with acoustic instruments suspended at stratospheric altitudes using a free–flying balloon. We observe high–amplitude signals generated by lightning strokes located within 100 km of the balloon as it flew over the Tasman Sea on 17 May 2016. The signals share many characteristics with waveforms recorded previously by ground–based instruments near thunderstorms. The ability to measure lightning activity with high–altitude infrasound instruments has demonstrated the potential for using these platforms to image the full acoustic wavefield in the atmosphere. In conclusion, it validates the use of these platforms for recording and characterizing infrasonic sources located beyond the detection range of ground–based instruments.},
doi = {10.1029/2018GL078401},
journal = {Geophysical Research Letters},
number = 14,
volume = 45,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {6}
}

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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Detecting lightning infrasound using a high-altitude balloon
    text, January 2018