Various recent studies show that the rising global temperature leads to an increase in low-level humidity and available convective potential energy that feeds thunderstorms. As a result, frequency and power of thunderstorms will likely rise, as will the number of lightning strikes per storm. As a result of the combined effect of global warming on the number of storms and the number of strikes per storm, lightning is expected to be 6% more frequent per degree of global temperature rise leading to an increase in accidents and deaths as well as material and environmental damage. The first detectable phenomenon when a new thunderstorm cell develops is a change of the static electric field at ground level. For that reason, permanent monitoring of the local electrostatic field has been identified as key for thunderstorm warning in the international standards. For effective early warning, multi-station field monitoring is necessary as such measurements improve the reliability and information value. Given the state-of-the-art measurement systems, this is far too expensive to realise and maintain. The unique electric field sensors recently developed at DUK are for the first time reliable and potentially cheap enough to attempt realisation of such large scale networks. In the course of this project, the sensor will be adapted for outdoors usage and installed at a dedicated monitoring site in Wiener Neustadt. Afterwards, the sensor will collect field data over multiple periods of several days in order to capture the field in different weather conditions (including thunderstorms). This data will be evaluated to demonstrate the advantages and warning applications of the sensor with respect to climate change driven increase in frequency and power of thunderstorms. Ideally, the field data will deliver information which helps to assess the severity of developing storms.


Duration 01/03/2021 - 31/07/2024
Funding Bundesländer (inkl. deren Stiftungen und Einrichtungen)

Department for Integrated Sensor Systems

Center for Micro and Nano Sensors

Principle investigator for the project (University for Continuing Education Krems) Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Wilfried Hortschitz
Project members
Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Andreas Kainz, MBA


Hortschitz, W.; Kainz, A.; Beigelbeck, R.; Schmid, G.; Keplinger, F. (2024). Review on Sensors for Electric Fields near Power Transmission Systems. Measurement Science and Technology, Vol. 1: 1-32

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