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  1. Abstract

    In this study we explored the environmental conditions hypothesized to induce a dominant charge structure in thunderstorms in the province of Cordoba, Argentina, during the RELAMPAGO‐CACTI (Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations‐Clouds, Aerosols, Complex Terrain Interactions) field campaigns. Hypothesized environmental conditions are thought to be related to small warm cloud residence time and warm rain growth suppression, which lead to high cloud liquid water contents in the mixed‐phase zone, contributing to positive charging of graupel and anomalous charge structure storms. Data from radiosondes, a cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) ground‐based instrument and reanalysis were used to characterize the proximity inflow air of storms with anomalous and normal charge structures. Consistent with the initial hypothesis, anomalous storms had small warm cloud depth caused by dry low‐level humidity and low 0°C height. Anomalous storms were associated with lower CCN concentrations than normal storms, an opposite result to the initial expectation. High CAPE is not an important condition for the development of anomalous storms in Argentina, as no clear pattern could be found among the different parameters calculated for updraft proxy that would be consistent with the initial hypothesis.

     
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  2. Abstract During November 2018–April 2019, an 11-station very high frequency (VHF) Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) was deployed to Córdoba Province, Argentina. The purpose of the LMA was validation of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), but the deployment was coordinated with two field campaigns. The LMA observed 2.9 million flashes (≥ five sources) during 163 days, and level-1 (VHF locations), level-2 (flashes classified), and level-3 (gridded products) datasets have been made public. The network’s performance allows scientifically useful analysis within 100 km when at least seven stations were active. Careful analysis beyond 100 km is also possible. The LMA dataset includes many examples of intense storms with extremely high flash rates (>1 s−1), electrical discharges in overshooting tops (OTs), as well as anomalously charged thunderstorms with low-altitude lightning. The modal flash altitude was 10 km, but many flashes occurred at very high altitude (15–20 km). There were also anomalous and stratiform flashes near 5–7 km in altitude. Most flashes were small (<50 km2 area). Comparisons with GLM on 14 and 20 December 2018 indicated that GLM most successfully detected larger flashes (i.e., more than 100 VHF sources), with detection efficiency (DE) up to 90%. However, GLM DE was reduced for flashes that were smaller or that occurred lower in the cloud (e.g., near 6-km altitude). GLM DE also was reduced during a period of OT electrical discharges. Overall, GLM DE was a strong function of thunderstorm evolution and the dominant characteristics of the lightning it produced. 
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  3. Abstract

    A new automated method to retrieve charge layer polarity from flashes, named Chargepol, is presented in this paper. Using data from the NASA Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) deployed during the Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations (RELAMPAGO) field campaign in Cordoba, Argentina, from November 2018 to April 2019, this method estimates the polarity of vertical charge distributions and their altitudes and thicknesses (or vertical depth) using the very‐high frequency (VHF) source emissions detected by LMAs. When this method is applied to LMA data for extended periods of time, it is capable of inferring a storm's bulk electrical charge structure throughout its life cycle. This method reliably predicted the polarity of charge within which lightning flashes propagated and was validated in comparison to methods that require manual assignment of polarities via visual inspection of VHF lightning sources. Examples of normal and anomalous charge structures retrieved using Chargepol for storms in Central Argentina during RELAMPAGO are presented for the first time. Application of Chargepol to five months of LMA data in Central Argentina and several locations in the United States allowed for the characterization of the charge structure in these regions and for a reliable comparison using the same methodology. About 13.3% of Cordoba thunderstorms were defined by an anomalous charge structure, slightly higher than in Oklahoma (12.5%) and West Texas (11.1%), higher than Alabama (7.3%), and considerably lower than in Colorado (82.6%). Some of the Cordoba anomalous thunderstorms presented enhanced low‐level positive charge, a feature rarely if ever observed in Colorado thunderstorms.

     
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  4. Abstract

    This work examines a severe weather event that took place over central Argentina on 11 December 2018. The evolution of the storm from its initiation, rapid organization into a supercell, and eventual decay was analyzed with high‐temporal resolution observations. This work provides insight into the spatio‐temporal co‐evolution of storm kinematics (updraft area and lifespan), cloud‐top cooling rates, and lightning production that led to severe weather. The analyzed storm presented two convective periods with associated severe weather. An overall decrease in cloud‐top local minima IR brightness temperature (MinIR) and lightning jump (LJ) preceded both periods. LJs provided the highest lead time to the occurrence of severe weather, with the ground‐based lightning networks providing the maximum warning time of around 30 min. Lightning flash counts from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) were underestimated when compared to detections from ground‐based lightning networks. Among the possible reasons for GLM's lower detection efficiency were an optically dense medium located above lightning sources and the occurrence of flashes smaller than GLM's footprint. The minimum MinIR provided the shorter warning time to severe weather occurrence. However, the secondary minima in MinIR that preceded the absolute minima improved this warning time by more than 10 min. Trends in MinIR for time scales shorter than 6 min revealed shorter cycles of fast cooling and warming, which provided information about the lifecycle of updrafts within the storm. The advantages of using observations with high‐temporal resolution to analyze the evolution and intensity of convective storms are discussed.

     
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  5. Abstract

    Identification and validation of atmospheric extremes are essential to monitoring climate change, to addressing engineering and safety concerns, and to promoting technological advancement. An international World Meteorological Organization evaluation committee has critically adjudicated and recommended acceptance of two lightning megaflash events (horizontal mesoscale lightning discharges of >100 km in length) as new global extremes using analysis of Geostationary Lightning Mapper data. The world's greatest extent for an individual lightning flash is a single flash that covered a horizontal distance of 709 ± 8 km (441 ± 5 mi) across parts of southern Brazil on 31 October 2018. The greatest duration for a single lightning flash is 16.730 ± 0.002 s from a flash that developed continuously over northern Argentina on 4 March 2019.

     
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