Collaborative Research: An Integrated Understanding of the Initiation and Subsequent Dynamical and Microphysical Characteristics of Deep Convective Storms during RELAMPAGO

Project: Research project

Project Details


RELAMPAGO (Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations) is a study of extreme thunderstorms. It includes a field program to be conducted from 1 Nov to 15 Dec 2018 in west central Argentina, which is regarded as perhaps the world?s best natural laboratory for thunderstorm research. Cutting edge observations from mobile Doppler radar and other instruments will be collected and then analyzed to answer the very basic question of why the thunderstorms in this region are among the most intense in the world. RELAMPAGO will identify the mechanisms that trigger these thunderstorms and contribute to their violence. RELAMPAGO will also determine why these extreme storms are such prolific hail producers, but do not appear to generate many tornadoes. Understanding the initiation and evolution of thunderstorms and how they generate severe weather in Argentina will enable scientists to create better, and more general, theories about thunderstorms in the U.S. This will lead to better forecasts of U.S. thunderstorms and their severe impacts, including hail and tornadoes, and reduce losses of life and property in the U.S. RELAMPAGO is a collaborative project with critical involvement from the University of Illinois, the Pennsylvania State University, University of Colorado, and the Center for Severe Weather Research. Student participation will help shape the careers of the future generation of scientists, engineers and forecasters by equipping them with cutting edge skills and knowledge.

RELAMPAGO is a study of extreme thunderstorms. It includes a field program to be conducted from 1 Nov to 15 Dec 2018 in west central Argentina. RELAMPAGO is motivated by satellite observations showing that the thunderstorms in this region are arguably the deepest and most intense in the world. The scarcity of available ground-based observations has kept open the question of why these thunderstorms are so intense. Thus, a novel set of targeted, integrated ground-based instrumentation, including mobile Doppler radars, radiosonde systems, and deployable meteorological sensors will be used to investigate the local environment in which these storms initiate and organize, and the internal storm processes that generate severe weather.

Specifically, the extensive suite of RELAMPAGO observations and complementary numerical simulations will be used to determine the convective triggering mechanisms in this environment, and the properties of the regional orography and circulations that contribute to the extreme nature of these storms. Orographically modified environments will be related to the frequency of supercellular convection and its transition to mesoscale convective systems. A new understanding of how such environmental modifications enhance hail production will also be gained, as will an understanding of how (and when) the environments support severe-wind production but reduce the likelihood of tornadogenesis through stronger cold pool generation and reduction of low-level vertical wind shear. This research on extreme thunderstorms outside the U.S. will leverage the results from past U.S. projects, permitting a more general, and geographically unconstrained, understanding of such storms. This will aid the development of conceptual and predictive models that can be used by forecasters in the U.S. and worldwide, mitigating future loss of life and property.

Effective start/end date8/15/177/31/22


  • National Science Foundation: $367,691.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.