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Lightning-Generated Electromagnetic Radiation


Experimental Studies of Radiation Connected with Lightning in Thunderstorm-Active Regions of Kyrgyz Republic

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MIN/Monitoring and Instrumentation/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
SOS-STORM, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek

Supporting institutes

  • NIIIT (Pulse Techniques), Russia, Moscow\nVNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov\nInstitute of Physics, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek\nSupreme Hydro Meteorology management of the Kyrgyz Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek


  • FMA Research, USA, CO, Fort Collins\nUniversity of Mississippi, USA, OH, Oxford\nDepartment of the Army / US Army , Development and Engineering Center, USA, NJ, Picatinny\nMetatech Corporation, USA, CA, Goleta\nAir Force Research Laboratory, USA, NM, Albuquerque

Project summary

The goal of the Project is to study experimentally those phenomena, which accompany the HAL, i.e. their ionizing radiation in the thunderstorm-active regions of Kyrgyz Republic, primarily around the high land lake Issyk-Kul.

Geographical and geophysical natural features in Kyrgyzstan (a range of mountain chains separated by high-altitude valleys and craters, dry continental climate, the big high-land basin) define the unique nature of electric processes in its atmosphere. It is characterized by an elevated level of ion generation caused by radioactive and cosmic-ray sources, high lightning activity during the convective period. At the same time, no targeted comprehensive study of thunderstorm electricity has been done yet in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Due to the new recent data on thunderstorm and lightning statistics (see, for example, Christian, H.J., R.J.Blakeslee, D.J.Boccippio, W.L.Boeck, D.E.Buechler, K.T.Driscoll. S.J.Goodman, J.M.Hall, W.J.Koshak, D.M.Mach, and M.F.Stewart, Global frequency and distribution of lightning as observed from space by the Optical Transient Detector, J.Geophys.Res., 108, 4005, 10.1029/2002JD002347, 2003), problems of lightning climatology, a role of large-scale and meso-scale atmospheric circulation, convection, aerosol generation in the thunderstorm centers genesis, became the points of wide discussions (Williams, E.R., Global lightning: Total, cloud and ground flash estimates, J. Geophys. Res., 103, 19, 791- 19. 809, 1998; Lightning and climate: a review, Proc. 12th Int. Conf. on Atmospheric Electricity, Versailles, France, 2003, pp. 665-668). Therefore, further study of regional features of lightning statistics and development of satellite ground-based means of lightning mapping acquires a great importance (Jacobson, A.R., K.L.Cummins, M.Carter, P.Klingner, D.Roussel-Dupre, and S.O.Knox, FORTE radio-frequency observations of lightning strokes detected by the National Lightning Detection Network, J. Geophys. Res., 105, 15 653-15 652, 2000). So-called mesoscale convective systems have attracted recently especially big attention due to their important contribution into the total thunderstorm activity in a number of areas (Great Plains in the USA, South America), including abnormally high rate of positive flashes and high-altitude discharges – sprites, jets and elves (Lyons, W.A., Sprite observations above the U.S. High Plains in relation to their parent thunderstorm systems, J. Geophys. Res., 101, 29, 641, 1996; Marshall T.C., Stolzenburg M., Electrical energy constraints on lightning, J. Geophys. Res., 107, ND7, 10.1029/2000JD000024, 2002, and refs. therein). In that connection the study of powerful positive cloud-to-ground flashes is of a special interest, because they lead to characteristic radio emissions and occasionally to high-altitude discharges (Cummer S.A., Inan U.S., Bell T.F., and Barrington-Leigh, ELF radiation produced by electrical currents in sprites, Geophys. Rec. Lett., vol.25, N8, 1998, pp. 1281-1284), can influence long-range communication and, possible, airline and spacecraft safety. Along with that, electromagnetic effects of positive flashes and high-altitude discharges coincide considerably with those of nuclear explosions in the atmosphere. Therefore, their research is necessary, in order to provide a reliable cosmic monitoring equipment functioning with respect to nuclear testing in accordance with i.11 Article IV of the Comprehensive Nuclear – Tests – Ban Treaty (CTBT):

Each State Party undertakes to cooperate with the Organization and with other State Parties in the improvement of the verification regime, and in the examination of the verification potential of additional monitoring technologies such as electromagnetic pulse or satellite monitoring, with a view to developing, when appropriate, specific measures to enhance the efficient and cost-effective verification of this Treaty.”

This research is especially acute in connection with the recent ratification by Kyrgyz Republic of the Comprehensive Nuclear – Tests – Ban Treaty (CTBT).

During the Project fulfillment there will be used unique opportunities presented by the high mountain network of meteo and seismic stations in Kyrgyz Republic and their personnel as well. In the Project there will be involved specialists, who are experienced in recording and analysis of natural phenomena, i.e. the staff members of the Public Foundation, Scientific Production Association “SOS – STORM” (PF “SOS – STORM”), the Institute of Physics of the National Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyz Republic (IPh NAS KR), and Supreme Hydro Meteorology Management of the Ministry of Kyrgyz Republic for Ecology and Emergency (“KYRGYZHYDROMET”).

Under several ISTC Project #311, the participants form RFNC – VNIIEF developed theoretical basics and numerical codes for computing generation and propagation of high power electromagnetic pulses (EMP) in the atmosphere. The participants from SRIPT possess a 15-year experience in recording EMP of thunderstorm lightning discharges in the atmosphere. In this Institute it is developed unique measuring equipment for recording radiation accompanying the lightning, as well as the most advanced measuring techniques.

In August 2003 it was started a new ISTC Project #2210 «Research of Possible Artificial Initiation of Lightning Discharges Directed to Ionosphere», which includes further development of HAL numerical methods and theory, as well as methods for experimental data analysis. The participants form SRIPT and RFNC – VNIIEF involved in the abovementioned Project are also engaged in the present Project. With regard to analyzing the experimental data to be obtained under the present Project, the results of the ISTC Project #2210 will be used.

As a result of the Project it will be obtained the following:

· In the high mountain environment it will be refined the method for synchronous lightning radiation recording from two remote locations, i.e. it will be addressed the task of radiation source radio bearing;

· Recording and analysis data on lightning EMP shape over a wide frequency range,
· Recording and analysis data on time changes in the light flash from HAL,
· Analysis data on particulates of lightning radiation formation and propagation in mountainous areas,
· Systematization of data to be obtained and their representation in the form allowing their using in the jamming signals databank for electromagnetic monitoring of nuclear explosions in the interests of CTBT.

Exchange of experience in the use of advanced recording techniques and lightning radiation analysis with young scientists in Kyrgyz Republic.

Finding results will be used for analysis of lightning discharge influence on a distant radio communication. The Project results will be useful for the development of the aircraft lightning-protection, as well as improvement of the EMP monitoring methods used for CTBT verification applications.

The present Project complies fully with the ISTC mission and goals, namely:

· It provides for the Russian scientists (VNIIEF and SRIRT) formerly involved in the nuclear weapon development the alternative civil employment opportunities in connection with the development of advanced defense conversion technologies concerning experimental research of thunderstorm discharges;

· The Project is based of the recent science and technology achievements in recording and analysis of radiation accompanying lightning, and therefore the Project stimulates the weapon scientists integration into the world scientific community;
· The Project has a commercial potential because it will create the technical and scientific base for the analysis of lightning discharge influence on radio communication with respect to the development of the aircraft lightning-protection, as well as improvement of the EMP monitoring methods used for CTBT verification applications.

The Project fulfillment will foster the exchange of experience in the use of advanced recording techniques and lightning radiation analysis with young scientists in Kyrgyz Republic.

In compliance with the scope of activities under the Project, the interactions with the foreign collaborators will take the following forms:

· Information exchange during the Project;

· Collaborators’ comments to technical reports of the project participants;
· Assistance to the project participants in attending international conferences;
· Joint seminars

The basic results of the Project will be published.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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