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Contributing to lightning disaster prevention in Malaysia -- Selected for the FY2022 Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) Program

Press release -

Contributing to lightning disaster prevention in Malaysia -- Selected for the FY2022 Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) Program

A joint research project “Real-Time Lightning 3D Imaging and Forecasting Project for Sustainable Energy Supply and Storm Disaster Early Warning” by Professor MORIMOTO Takeshi (Faculty of Science and Engineering, Kindai University, Osaka prefecture), Chubu University (Aichi prefecture), Gifu University (Gifu prefecture), Fukushima University (Fukushima prefecture), and OTOWA ELECTRIC CO., LTD. (Hyogo prefecture) has been provisionally* selected for the Fiscal Year 2022 Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) program. Conducted in the coastal area of the Straits of Malacca in Malaysia, which suffers from serious lightning disasters with more than 200 lightning days per year, this research aims to contribute to disaster prevention by forecasting lightning strikes by constructing the world's highest lightning observation network.

*The joint research will formally start after discussions between the government of the partner country, related organizations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and JICA. It is called "provisional" at this point, as it may not start the international joint research if an agreement is not reached.

Key points

- Our international joint research on lightning disaster prevention has been selected for SATREPS

- Promoting this research in collaboration with Official Development Assistance (ODA) as an international joint research to solve global issues

- Real-time 3D imaging of charge distribution in thunderclouds and forecasting of lightning activity based on the observation technology cultivated over the years, it aims to prevent and mitigate disaster in Malaysia where the annual lightning day exceeds 200 days.

Overview

Professor MORIMOTO Takeshi (Department of Electrical, Electronic and Communication Engineering, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Kindai University) has developed electromagnetic observations systems for lightning discharges, and is also conducting research on the lightning discharge mechanism and disaster countermeasures. In addition to ground-based observation equipment, he has achieved successful lightning observations from the satellite "Maido-1" manufactured by a group of small and medium sized enterprises and factories around Higashiosaka and the International Space Stations, as well as artificial rocket triggered lightning.

This research will be conducted in collaboration with Professor YAMAMOTO Kazuo (Faculty of Engineering, Chubu University) who specializes in lightning current measurement and lightning damage countermeasures to prevent equipment from being damaged by lightning strikes. It aims for disaster prevention in Malaysia, which is suffering from serious damages of lightning for electrical power facilities.

Affiliated with Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka and Universiti Tenaga Nasional, the team will build the world's highest observation network for lightning activity around the Straits of Malacca, and apply the obtained research results on disaster prevention and mitigation towards social sustainability.

The joint research will officially start in 2023 after arrangements and procedures including conclusion of an international agreement with the government of the partner country by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Details of the research

This research will be conducted in the coastal area of the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia, where the energy of lightning strikes is large and there are many positive cloud-to-ground flashes that may damage electric, communication and other equipments. They will realize an electromagnetic field observation network that has: (1) very high frequency (VHF) to observe the progress in detail from the initiation of discharge and (2) low frequency (LF) to observe entire lightning channels in a wider area.

3D charge distribution in the thundercloud and the amount of neutralized chargeis estimated from the information where the lightning discharge begins, how it progresses, and where it ends. Then, it is examined by the lightning current waveform measured directly with the high structure and rocket-triggered lightning. By comprehensively grasping the charge behavior in the air related to lightning discharge, it is possible to estimate the charge distribution in the cloud and to predict lightning strike.

In addition, promoting the control of transmission and distribution line networks and electric power equipment using IoT, and the early warning system of severe weather disasters using AI to be implemented in the society, the team further research on active and adaptive lightning resistance and protection as well as artificial trigged lightning technique.

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Mariko Fukui

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