Date of Award

3-22-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Omar A. Nava, PhD

Abstract

Lightning poses a significant hazard to space launch operations to include ground processing, launch window forecasts, and rocket-triggered lightning events. Two lightning initiation forecast methods using weather radar developed in Gremillion and Orville (1999) and Travis (2015) for Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) and Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida are tested in a new geographical region. This is accomplished by applying the highest-performing radar parameters from Gremillion and Orville (1999): reectivity (Z) ≥ 40 dBZ for two consecutive volume scans at the -10°C thermal height and Travis (2015): Z ≥ 36.5 dBZ with differential reflectivity (ZDR) ≥ 0.31 dB at the -10°C thermal height, across southwest Utah's multi-dimensional lightning detection network, the Telescope Array Lightning Mapping Array (TA LMA). Both methods are tested on 102 isolated, warm-season thunderstorms between August 2015 and August 2018. A follow-up study Olsen (2018) was conducted in the Washington, D.C. area using Travis' parameters, where poor performance was recorded. Forecast metrics and lead times are calculated and compared to the results of Gremillion and Orville (1999), Travis (2015), and Olsen (2018). The findings of this study confirm that the lightning prediction methods from both studies do not function well for Utah. Despite being tested in different climates, the forecast lead times of all three study locations are statistically significant. Additional results also conclude that Z is the determining factor within Utah lightning initiation prediction algorithms and that ZDR lightning prediction is not geographically robust.

AFIT Designator

AFIT-ENP-MS-19-M-083

DTIC Accession Number

DTIC pending

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