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NSSL scientists receive NASA grant to improve lightning observations

NSSL research scientists Donald MacGorman and Ted Mansell, along with OU meteorology professor William Beasley were awarded a $1.44 million three-year grant from NASA to improve ground-based lightning observations.

The team of NSSL and OU scientists will work closely with NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center to establish the Center for Lightning Advanced Studies and Safety (CLASS). During the first two years, the center will focus on expanding the Oklahoma Lightning Mapping Array (OK-LMA), a network of eleven stations in central Oklahoma that continuously maps the structure of all types of lightning. They will also establish a ground-based network of electric-field meters, which measure electricity in the atmosphere and install high-speed lightning imaging capability for recording.

New NASA satellites will observe lightning from space, and together with the ground-based network, will provide a wealth of new data. This will be used to improve weather forecast models and to develop lightning hazard warning techniques.

Background: The three-year $1.44 million grant is from NASA's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The proposal was one of 43 submitted to the NASA EPSCoR program; only 23 were funded.

Significance: CLASS will provide new observations of lightning aiding the development of improved lightning hazard-warning decision support techniques, reducing the numbers of injuries, deaths, and economic hazards.