Lightning Discharges - Initiation, Development, Impact
Lightning discharges remain an enigma to date despite intensive research. Whilst lightning discharges are used as an indicator for now-casting severe weather in meteorological operational services, the initiation of lightning discharges inside thunderclouds and consecutive discharge processes above thunderclouds, known as sprites, blue jets, gigantic jets, elves, terrestrial gamma ray flashes and terrestrial electron flashes, are the subject of intense research. This project will integrate existing technologies to enable fundamental scientific contributions to push forward the boundaries of knowledge on the initiation, development and impact of lightning discharges.
A key novelty will be the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) to construct reconfigurable three dimensional sensor networks. These networks will be used to measure the optical signatures of distant lightning discharges and the radio spectrum from ~4 Hz to ~1 GHz during field work in southern France in the summer months, where numerous thunderstorms occur. Allied with interferometric methods, these measurements enable the detection of lightning discharges and consecutive discharge processes above thunderclouds.
The project will be conducted in collaboration with the teams around two novel space missions, the Atmosphere-Space Interaction Monitor (ASIM) of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the micro-satellite TARANIS of the French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). The two space missions are pathfinder missions to prepare the forthcoming Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellite which features an optical lightning detection module in geostationary orbit.
The scientific outcomes of the project are of immediate interest to the UK MetOffice in Exeter and Bristol Industrial & Research Associates Ltd. (BIRAL), both of which operate lightning detection networks toward the now-casting of severe weather for numerous customers from industry.
Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least an upper second class Honours degree, or equivalent qualifications in (list subject/s) The successful candidate has a first class degree in applied physics, e.g., geoscience, astronomy or plasma physics, mathematics, or electronic and electrical engineering and is interested to participate in demanding field work in southern France. Applicants from non-English speaking countries need to have met the required IELTS scores by the application deadline.
This project is open to UK or EU students only.
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