Due to the difficulty of direct measurement of the thunderstorm environment, in particular the electric field strengths, the initial stages of lightning breakdown remain mysterious. The 1994 discovery of Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs) and their implications for megaVolt potentials within thunderclouds has proved to be a valuable source of information about the breakdown process. The Telescope Array Surface Detector (TASD) — a 700 km2 scintillator array in Western Utah, U.S.A — coupled with a lightning mapping array, fast sferic (field change) sensor and broadband interferometer, has provided unique insight into the properties of this energetic radiation and of lightning initiation in general. In particular, microsecond-scale timing comparisons have clearly established that downward TGFs occur during strong initial breakdown pulses (IBPs) of downward negative cloud-to-ground and intracloud flashes. In turn, the IBPs are produced by streamer-based fast negative breakdown. Investigations into downward TGFs with the TASD have significantly evolved with recent upgrades to lightning instrumentation. A second state-of-the-art broadband interferometer allows high-resolution stereo observation of lightning development. A high-speed optical video camera, set to be deployed in Spring 2021, will allow simultaneous observation of the visual component of lightning responsible for TGF production. Finally, a suite of ground based static electric field mills will provide new information on the large-scale properties of the thunderstorms in which downward TGFs arise.
|Journal||Proceedings of Science|
|Publication status||Published - 2022 Mar 18|
|Event||37th International Cosmic Ray Conference, ICRC 2021 - Virtual, Berlin, Germany|
Duration: 2021 Jul 12 → 2021 Jul 23
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Telescope Array experiment is supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science(JSPS) through Grants-in-Aid for Priority Area 431, for Specially Promoted Research JP21000002, for Scientific Research (S) JP19104006, for Specially Promoted Research JP15H05693, for Scientific Research (S) JP15H05741 and JP19H05607, for Science Research (A) JP18H03705, for Young Scientists (A) JPH26707011, and for Fostering Joint International Research (B) JP19KK0074, by the joint research program of the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research (ICRR), The University of Tokyo; by the Pioneering Program of RIKEN for the Evolution of Matter in the Universe (r-EMU); by the U.S. National Science Foundation awards PHY-1404495, PHY-1404502, PHY-1607727, PHY-1712517, PHY-1806797 and PHY-2012934; by the National Research Foundation of Korea (2017K1A4A3015188, 2020R1A2C1008230, & 2020R1A2C2102800) ; by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation under the contract 075-15-2020-778, RFBR grant 20-02-00625a (INR), IISN project No. 4.4501.18, and Belgian Science Policy under IUAP VII/37 (ULB). This work was partially supported by the grants ofThe joint research program of the Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research, Nagoya University and Inter-University Research Program of the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research of University of Tokyo. The foundations of Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke, Willard L. Eccles, and George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles all helped with generous donations. The State of Utah supported the project through its Economic Development Board, and the University of Utah through the Office of the Vice President for Research. The experimental site became available through the cooperation of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the U.S. Air Force. We appreciate the assistance of the State of Utah and Fillmore offices of the BLM in crafting the Plan of Development for the site. Patrick A. Shea assisted the collaboration with valuable advice and supported the collaborationâTMs efforts. The people and the officials of Millard County, Utah have been a source of steadfast and warm support for our work which we greatly appreciate. We are indebted to the Millard County Road Department for their efforts to maintain and clear the roads which get us to our sites. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution from the technical staffs of our home institutions. An allocation of computer time from the Center for High Performance Computing at the University of Utah is gratefully acknowledged.
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