A lightning detection system for studying transient phenomena in cosmic ray observatories
July 08, 2021
Transients of the atmospheric electric field could cause anomalous events in the surface particle detectors of cosmic ray observatories. A better understanding of these incidents requires more accurate lightning data at the observation sites. We present the design and implementation of a monitoring system capable of detecting and storing lightning discharges. The acquisition window per event contains information of the first return stroke and the subsequent ones during 1.2 seconds at a sampling frequency of 100 kHz. The acquisition timing resolution (10 ns) allows a lightning strike location error < 10 m. The station also records environmental data, containing temperature, barometric pressure, relative humidity, and steady-state atmospheric electric field. A GPS receiver provides the absolute time of the station. 3-dimensional mapping of lightning discharge can be reconstructed in detail using a monitoring network of at least three stations.
We present preliminary measurements during a thunderstorm episode (2019-11- 09). The event lasts about 2 hours, recording a maximum electric field peak of ~-15 kV/m. The atmospheric potential was ~27 MV with an estimated thunderstorm cloud-base height of ~2 km. At least four lightning events occurred during the thunderstorm period. Such discharges released an electric field >5 kV/m.
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