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what is the power spectrum and frequency spectrum of lightning. Can we calculate the Wattage in a lightning storm, can we draw useful power from it.

I would like to build an antenna and receiver to monitor lightning and calculate distance of storm, general direction and determine the type of storm by something in the frequency spectrum if such a signature exists.

Is there an area of research and literature for this?

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    $\begingroup$ Hold on while I submit your name to the Darwin Awards committee. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Nov 26 '14 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ all good, I got this. $\endgroup$ – Peter Nov 27 '14 at 0:23
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There is a community-run project harnessing the lightning EM signatures to map lightning over the world in realtime. Their live website is pretty cool, if you find a thunderstorm :) You would be helped by checking out the project and read the pretty detailed literature including the descriptions of the hardware required to participate. Let me quote a relevant piece for you below from this paper:

A lightning discharge emits radio frequency energy over a wide range of frequencies. When high currents occur in previously ionized channels during cloud-to-ground flashes, the most powerful emissions occur in the VLF range. VLF (very low frequency) refers to radio frequencies in the range of 3 kHz to 30 kHz. An essential advantage of low frequencies in contrast to higher frequencies is the property that these signals are propagated over thousands of kilometers by reflections from the ionosphere and the ground. In general, a lightning discharge generates several short duration pulses running between a storm cloud and the ground, or between or within storm clouds.

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  • $\begingroup$ thanks! don't forget to mark the answer as answered, if you think its an answer that is :) $\endgroup$ – BjornW Nov 27 '14 at 1:26
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I suggest that you look at the work of Ute Ebert. She is an expert in the area of plasmas and lightning. If you go to her home page there is a link to her literature with some pdf files available.

Think very carefully before you build an antenna for lightning. Friends had to have their house rebuilt after it was struck by lightning and it was 'a miracle' that the family (including young children) all got out alive with only slight burns to the mother's arm.

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  • $\begingroup$ where is the question answered button? $\endgroup$ – Peter Nov 27 '14 at 1:44

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