Three-Dimensional VHF Lightning Mapping System for Winter Thunderstorms

Masahide Nishihashi * Alpha-denshi Co., Ltd., and Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

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Ken-ichi Shimose * Alpha-denshi Co., Ltd., and Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

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Kenichi Kusunoki Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

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Syugo Hayashi Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

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Ken-ichiro Arai East Japan Railway Company, Saitama, Japan

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Hanako Y. Inoue Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

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Wataru Mashiko Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

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Masako Kusume * Alpha-denshi Co., Ltd., and Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

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Hiroyuki Morishima East Japan Railway Company, Saitama, Japan

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Abstract

A three-dimensional (3D) winter lightning mapping system employing very high frequency (VHF) broadband signals was developed for continuous remote observation in winter. VHF broadband pulses radiated by leader progression are received with three discone antennas arranged in a triangle (20–30 m) and recorded on a high-speed digital oscilloscope (1.25-GHz sampling) with GPS digital timing data. The two-dimensional (2D) mapping for azimuth and elevation of the VHF radiation sources was conducted by computing the arrival time differences of three pulses using a cross-correlation technique. From azimuth and elevation data from two sites extracted within a given time frame, 3D lightning mapping was performed using the triangulation scheme. An observation network for winter lightning was constructed within a comprehensive meteorological observation network in the Shonai area, which is located on the coast of the Japan Sea. This report includes the preliminary 2D and 3D mapping of winter lightning observed on 3 December 2010. The horizontal and vertical distributions of VHF radiation sources were consistent with the radar echo observed with X-band Doppler radar. These results indicate that the system can detect winter lightning discharges and perform 2D and 3D lightning mapping in detail.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Masahide Nishihashi, Meteorological Research Institute, 1-1 Nagamine, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0052, Japan. E-mail: mnishiha@mri-jma.go.jp

Abstract

A three-dimensional (3D) winter lightning mapping system employing very high frequency (VHF) broadband signals was developed for continuous remote observation in winter. VHF broadband pulses radiated by leader progression are received with three discone antennas arranged in a triangle (20–30 m) and recorded on a high-speed digital oscilloscope (1.25-GHz sampling) with GPS digital timing data. The two-dimensional (2D) mapping for azimuth and elevation of the VHF radiation sources was conducted by computing the arrival time differences of three pulses using a cross-correlation technique. From azimuth and elevation data from two sites extracted within a given time frame, 3D lightning mapping was performed using the triangulation scheme. An observation network for winter lightning was constructed within a comprehensive meteorological observation network in the Shonai area, which is located on the coast of the Japan Sea. This report includes the preliminary 2D and 3D mapping of winter lightning observed on 3 December 2010. The horizontal and vertical distributions of VHF radiation sources were consistent with the radar echo observed with X-band Doppler radar. These results indicate that the system can detect winter lightning discharges and perform 2D and 3D lightning mapping in detail.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Masahide Nishihashi, Meteorological Research Institute, 1-1 Nagamine, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0052, Japan. E-mail: mnishiha@mri-jma.go.jp
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