The Jagiellonian University (JU) scientists have designed a global system to test, monitor and forecast thunderstorm activity in real time, with the help of ELF (extremely low frequency) waves. The system uses effective algorithms to analyze the wave resonance in the Earth-ionosphere cavity and thus determine the location and intensity of thunderstorms in real time.
The system also provides an opportunity to study atmospheric chemistry: measure the production of nitrogen oxides (NOx) as a function of time in the inaccessible tropical regions of the planet. There are many more scientific applications of the system, e.g. it may be used to study electrical phenomena in the high layers of atmosphere, climate changes, and the greenhouse effect.
The undertaking has been developed for eight years. It is run by a team of seven scientists from the Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science of the Jagiellonian University. It is coordinated by Dr Andrzej Kułak and used to be funded by the National Science Centre, the State Committee for Scientific Research, and the European Union. At the moment, the funds for the project come from the Jagiellonian University’s own budget.
The Jagiellonian University has submitted ten patent applications and received four patents: in Mexico, Russia, the USA, and the European Union. At the moment the JU Centre for Innovation, Technology Transfer, and University Development is looking for a firm or institution interested in putting the technology into commercial use.
The main advantages of the proposed system are:
- global coverage, even when only one monitoring device is used
- high precision of lightning intensity determination
- capability of outlining storm activity maps graduated in units of current per unit area, including the areas of the globe that have been inaccessible to other systems
- opportunity to observe the movement of storms centres in real time
Another important advantage of the system is the relatively low cost of producing and maintaining the apparatus due to:
- a small number of measurement points (15-30) required for highly precise monitoring of storm events on a global scale
- very high reliability of the apparatus thanks to the simplicity of the applied technical solutions
Source: Jagiellonian University