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dc.contributor.authorWilson, Jennifer G.
dc.contributor.authorCummins, Kenneth L.
dc.identifier.citationWilson, J. G., & Cummins, K. L. (2021). Thunderstorm and fair-weather quasi-static electric fields over land and ocean. Atmospheric Research, 257, 105618.en_US
dc.description.abstractNatural lightning and the associated clouds are known to behave differently over land and ocean, but many questions remain. We expand the related observational datasets by obtaining simultaneous quasi-static electric field observations over coastal land, near-shore water, and deep ocean regions during both fair-weather and thunderstorm periods. Oceanic observations were obtained using two 3-m NOAA buoys that were instrumented with Campbell Scientific electric field mills to measure the quasi-static electric fields. These data were compared to selected electric field records from the existing on-shore electric field mill suite of 31 sensors at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Lightning occurrence times, locations and peak current estimates for both onshore and ocean were provided by the U.S. National Lightning Detection Network. The buoy instruments were first evaluated on-shore at the Florida coast, and the first system was calibrated for field enhancements and to confirm proper behavior of the system in elevated-field environments. The buoys were then moored 20 mi and 120 mi off the coast of KSC in February (20 mi) and August (120 mi) 2014. Diurnal fair-weather fields at both ocean sites matched will with each other and with those found during the Carnegie cruise, but mean values were 33% smaller, due at least in-part to constraints on the calibration procedure. Diurnal fair-weather fields variations at coastal and inland sites were a poorer match than offshore, likely because the offshore environment is “cleaner” with limited variations in local space charge, lower surface aerosol densities, little surface heating to disturb the surface charge layer during fair weather, and fewer local radioactive sources to modulate the near-surface electrical conductivity. Storm-related static fields were 4-5× larger at both oceanic sites than over land, likely due to decreased screening by near-surface space charge produced by corona current. The time-evolution of the electric field and field changes during storm approach are sufficiently different over land and ocean to warrant further study. This work shows the quality, accuracy, and reliability of these data, and has demonstrated the practicality of off-shore electric field measurements for safety- and launch-related decision making at KSC.en_US
dc.description.sponsorshipDefense Advanced Research Projects Agencyen_US
dc.publisherElsevier BVen_US
dc.rights© 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
dc.subjectElectric fielden_US
dc.titleThunderstorm and fair-weather quasi-static electric fields over land and oceanen_US
dc.contributor.departmentDepartment of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizonaen_US
dc.identifier.journalAtmospheric Researchen_US
dc.description.noteOpen access articleen_US
dc.description.collectioninformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at
dc.eprint.versionFinal published versionen_US
dc.source.journaltitleAtmospheric Research

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© 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (