PhD candidate Jiaying He received the Outstanding Student Poster Award at the 2019 NASA Terrestrial Ecology (TE) Science Team Meeting for her poster entitled "Modeling cloud-to-ground lightning distribution in Alaskan tundra integrating Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model and machine learning algorithm".

The NASA TE program has been leading in providing remote sensing data, analysis and modeling, and addressing research questions in global land-based ecosystems for years. The 2019 TE meeting was hosted at College Park, MD during September 23-25 to discuss issues/opportunities and to review accomplishments within the TE program.  

This work is supported by Dr. Tatiana Loboda's NASA ABoVE project on tundra fire as part of the NASA TE program. Wildland fire is a major disturbance in Alaskan tundra ecosystems. As the primary ignition source of tundra fire, cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning is seldom studied and incorporated in the fire modeling efforts. In this work, Jiaying examined the factors driving CG lightning distribution across Alaskan tundra and modeled its probability through the integration of numerical weather prediction model WRF and random forest algorithm. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of the method for data-scarce regions like Alaskan tundra. Their results will support tundra fire monitoring and forecasting in the future.

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