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Lighting Storms to Measure Density of Earth’s Atmosphere

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Published on : Apr 08, 2019

Earth’s upper atmosphere is constantly moving during the day..  As a result, scientists were unable to measure its accurate density. However, in a recent study published by Sandeep Sarker and Chad Renick precise density of the upper atmosphere can be measured with the help of lightning storms.

The solution is retracing the path of lightning and calculating the frequency of electromagnetic waves emitted during the lightning storm. With this researchers were able to record the electron density of the region. A better understanding of the upper atmosphere provides numerous benefits to defense establishments of a country. It helps in improving the accuracy and resolution of low-frequency navigation systems. These systems can be the new alternatives to GPS proving as a better applications for military organizations.

How Monitoring Ionospheric D Region can Help?

Today, satellites revolving around the earth at 12,000 miles apart are the prime resource of high resolution and accurate GPS. The high-frequency signals have to travel a long distance before it can be processed and sent to the users. This distance weakens signals and makes it prone to jamming or spoofing, and sometimes deceived by a false signal. This can be catastrophic for the ground forces.

By measuring extremely low frequency (ELF) waves, defense organizations are able to pinpoint a location with highest accuracy. Transmitting data at low frequency secures it from jamming and spoofing, providing a crystal clear high-resolution image. Initially, this concept was limited to a radius of 1 mile. However, with the density of Ionospheric D region now known, the accuracy can be further improved.

Researchers also believe that this technique can answer the effect of solar flares in simple science. Also, it can explain the applied dynamics of any unexpected turbulences such as solar storms or solar eclipse.

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