Lightnings at the Zugspitze

Measuring Gamma-Rays and Simulating the Surroundings at the Umweltforschungsstation Schneefernerhaus at the Zugspitze

The environmental research station Schneefernerhaus is located at 2650 m altitude at the southside of the Zugspitze mountain. The "Kugelalm", a wooden hut at the Schneefernerhaus platform, is hosting different instruments that measure neutrons, muons, gamma-rays, and electric fields, among others. We want to measure the neutron capture on atoms in the atmosphere and the subsequent decay radiation, as well as other processes. In particular, we are interested in the particle acceleration in lightnings from thunderstorms and cross-correlations of the gamma-ray signal with (all) other instruments. In this work, a student will visit the Zugspitze to obtain an overview of the available instruments from different research groups in Germany, Czech Republic, Armenia, and Japan, and contribute to unifying the data collection towards a shared website. A new gamma-ray detector could also be installed inside the Kugelalm. The combined analysis of measurements requires Monte Carlo simulations of particles and photons that interact with the surroundings of, and the Schneefernerhaus itself, so that a student will build a detailed computer model of the platform and the Kugelalm in GEANT4 and run these simulations. With varying atmospheric conditions (weather), the density structure of the atmosphere changes which results in different mean free paths of different particles, limiting the observability of the resulting ionising radiation from lightnings. Putting the results from simulations and measurements together will result in testable predictions of particle acceleration in thunderstorm cells.

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Recent and related publications: 

Contact persons:

Prof. Dr. Karl Mannheim:
Dr. Thomas Siegert: