Lightning Sensor Device Helps Scientists Map & Predict Severe Weather

A device developed at The University of Alabama in Huntsville has become a valuable tool in researchers' quest to determine how lightning is spawned in clouds, to map strikes from beginning to end, and to better predict severe weather. The Huntsville Alabama Marx Meter Array (HAMMA) sensor actually resides under an inverted metal salad bowl to protect the electronics from rain. "We take the lightning induced change in the electric field and it's converted to a voltage reading by our equipment and that's transmitted to our computer," said Dr. Phillip Bitzer, an assistant professor of atmospheric science. Using the data from a network of HAMMA sensors, the computer generates maps showing the intensity and distribution of the lightning.