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  1. Abstract

    The electrical charge carried by raindrops provides significant information about thunderstorm electrification mechanisms, since the charge acquired by hydrometeors is closely related to the microphysical processes that they undergo within clouds. Investigation of charges on raindrops was conducted during the Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Meso‐scale/micro‐scale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations field campaign. A newly designed instrument was used to determine simultaneously the fall velocity and charge for precipitating particles. Hydrometeor size and charge were measured in Córdoba city, Argentina, during electrified storms. Temporal series of size‐charge of single raindrops were recorded for two storms, which were also monitored with a Parsivel disdrometer and Lightning Mapping Array. The results show that the magnitude of the electric charges range between 1 and 50 pC and more than 90% of the charges are mainly carried by raindrops >1 mm, even though most of the raindrops are smaller than 1 mm. Furthermore, the measurement series show charged hydrometeors of both signs all the time. A correlation between the sizes and the charges carried by the raindrops was found in both storms.

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  2. 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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  3. Abstract

    A particular strength of lightning remote sensing is the variety of lightning types observed, each with a unique occurrence context and characteristically different emission. Distinct energetic intracloud (EIC) lightning discharges—compact intracloud lightning discharges (CIDs) and energetic intracloud pulses (EIPs)—produce intense RF radiation, suggesting large currents inside the cloud, and they also have different production mechanisms and occurrence contexts. A Low‐Frequency (LF) lightning remote sensing instrument array was deployed during the RELAMPAGO field campaign in west central Argentina, designed to investigate convective storms that produce high‐impact weather. LF data from the campaign can provide a valuable data set for researching the lightning context of EICs in a variety of subtropical convective storms. This paper describes the production of an LF‐CID data set in RELAMPAGO and includes a preliminary analysis of CID prevalence. Geolocated lightning events and their corresponding observed waveforms from the RELAMPAGO LF data set are used in the classification of EICs. Height estimates based on skywave reflections are computed, where prefit residual data editing is used to improve robustness against outliers. Even if EIPs occurred within the network, given the low number of very high‐peak current events and receiver saturation, automatic classification of EIPs may not be feasible using this data. The classification of CIDs, on the other hand, is straightforward and their properties, for both positive and negative polarity, are investigated. A few RELAMPAGO case studies are also presented, where high variability of CID prevalence in ordinary storms and high‐altitude positive CIDs, possibly in overshooting tops, are observed.

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  4. Abstract

    The lightning data products generated by the low‐frequency (LF) radio lightning locating system (LLS) deployed during the Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, and Mesoscale/Microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observation (RELAMPAGO) field campaign in Argentina provide a valuable data set to research the lightning evolution and characteristics of convective storms that produce high‐impact weather. LF LLS data sets offer a practical range for mesoscale studies, allowing for the observation of lightning characteristics of storms such as mesoscale convective systems or large convective lines that travel longer distances which are not necessarily staying in range of regional VHF‐based lightning detection systems throughout their lifetime. LF LLSs also provide different information than optical space‐borne lightning detectors. Lightning measurements exclusive to LF systems include discharge peak current, lightning polarity, and lightning type classification based on the lightning‐emitted radio waveform. Furthermore, these measurements can provide additional information on flash rates (e.g., positive cloud‐to‐ground flash rate) or narrow bipolar events which may often be associated with dynamically intense convection. In this article, the geolocation and data processing of the LF data set collected during RELAMPAGO is fully described and its performance characterized, with location accuracy better than 10 km. The detection efficiency (DE) of the data set is compared to that of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, and spatiotemporal DE losses in the LF data set are discussed. Storm case studies on November 10, 2018, highlight the strengths of the data set, which include robust flash clustering and insightful flash rate and peak current measures, while illustrating how its limitations, including DE losses, can be managed.

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  5. 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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  6. Abstract

    The atmospheric electric field is an important research parameter in understanding storm electrification and energy exchange between lightning and the atmosphere across the globe. The near‐surface electric field can range from a few V/m (order of 10–100 V/m), mainly produced by the currents in the global electric circuit and local charge perturbations, to tens of kV/m in the presence of electrified clouds. The electric field mill (EFM), a variable capacitance electrometer, has been the instrument of choice in the atmospheric electricity community studying phenomena associated with the atmospheric electric field. The EFM is particularly useful in following storm movement and evolution, monitoring the fair‐weather electric field at distant locations, and measuring the vertical electric field inside clouds with EFM deployments on balloons. In this paper, we describe a new electric field mill ground‐based design, which focuses on lowering the manufacturing and operational costs of doing research with an array of EFM instruments while maintaining the scientific capabilities offered by past designs and commercially available devices. The theory of operation, data processing, and calibration of the instrument are also described. Example data from the first generation of these new field mills, deployed in the RELAMPAGO campaign in Argentina, are presented here. The RELAMPAGO deployment and data set illustrate important strengths of this design, for example, cost, autonomy, longevity, and measurement quality.

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  7. Some thunderstorms in Cordoba, Argentina, present a charge structure with an enhanced low-level positive charge layer, and practically nonexistent upper-level positive charge. Storms with these characteristics are uncommon in the United States, even when considering regions with a high frequency of anomalous charge structure storms such as Colorado. In this study, we explored the microphysical and kinematic conditions inferred by radar that led to storms with this unique low-level anomalous charge structure in Argentina, and compared them to conditions conducive for anomalous and normal charge structures. As high liquid water contents in the mixed-phase layer lead to positive charging of graupel and anomalous storms through the non-inductive charging mechanism, we explored radar parameters hypothesized to be associated with large cloud supercooled liquid water contents in the mixed-phase layer and anomalous storms, such as mass and volume of hail and high-density graupel, large reflectivity associated with the growth of rimed precipitation to hail size, and parameters that are proxies for strong updrafts such as echo-top and Zdr column heights. We found that anomalous storms had higher values of mass and volume of hail in multiple sub-layers of the mixed-phase zone and higher frequency of high reflectivity values. Low-level anomalous events had higher hail mass in the lower portion of the mixed-phase zone when compared to normal events. Weaker updraft proxies were found for low-level anomalous events due to the shallow nature of these events while there was no distinction between the updraft proxies of normal and anomalous storms. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    Abstract This article provides an overview of the experimental design, execution, education and public outreach, data collection, and initial scientific results from the Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations (RELAMPAGO) field campaign. RELAMPAGO was a major field campaign conducted in Córdoba and Mendoza provinces in Argentina, and western Rio Grande do Sul State in Brazil in 2018-2019 that involved more than 200 scientists and students from the US, Argentina, and Brazil. This campaign was motivated by the physical processes and societal impacts of deep convection that frequently initiates in this region, often along the complex terrain of the Sierras de Córdoba and Andes, and often grows rapidly upscale into dangerous storms that impact society. Observed storms during the experiment produced copious hail, intense flash flooding, extreme lightning flash rates and other unusual lightning phenomena, but few tornadoes. The 5 distinct scientific foci of RELAMPAGO: convection initiation, severe weather, upscale growth, hydrometeorology, and lightning and electrification are described, as are the deployment strategies to observe physical processes relevant to these foci. The campaign’s international cooperation, forecasting efforts, and mission planning strategies enabled a successful data collection effort. In addition, the legacy of RELAMPAGO in South America, including extensive multi-national education, public outreach, and social media data-gathering associated with the campaign, is summarized. 
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  9. 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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  10. null (Ed.)