Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Omar A. Nava, PhD


Understanding the connection between terrestrial and space environments is an emerging field of study that can significantly improve operational weather forecasting. In particular, it is well known that tropical cyclones (TCs) and thunderstorms can initiate gravity waves that generate fluctuations in the total electron content (TEC) of the ionosphere. These perturbations can deteriorate and delay the transmission of high-frequency (HF) communications, such as emergency services, amateur radio, and aviation. This study investigates changes in TEC according to the number of lightning ashes and the rainfall rates associated with Hurricane Michael (2018). A composite analysis will be performed using the GOES Geostationary Lightning Map- per (GLM), NCEP Stage IV Precipitation, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Haystack's Global Positioning System (GPS) TEC data sets to characterize the influence of lightning on the ionosphere at Hurricane Michael's peak intensity on 10 October 2018. Overall, improved characterization of the dynamic and electrodynamic connection between the lower and upper atmospheres has important implications for both space physics and atmospheric science communities. The techniques developed in this study have the potential to improve forecasting of tropical cyclogenesis, tropical cyclone intensification, and the discrimination between naturogenic and anthropogenic phenomena impacts on the ionosphere. No correlation is found between lightning and TEC variations; however, there are some more conclusive results relating a moderate rainfall rate to an increase in TEC variation during Hurricane Michael.

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