Trying to understand our complex atmosphere and beyond. Primary research focus is lightning.


Tom A. Warner

I was born in the United States in 1965. I received a B.S. degree in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of California, Davis in 1988 and a M.S. degree in Atmospheric Sciences from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, South Dakota in 2003. I worked as a research scientist for the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences, Rapid City, South Dakota from 2000 to 2004 where I piloted the armor-plated T-28 Storm Penetrating Aircraft.

Upward Flash

In 2004, I witnessed a spectacular upward flash and have focused my research efforts on upward lightning from tall objects ever since.

I have also been a photographer since 1997 specializing in aerial, weather, lightning and night/low-light still imagery.  In 2007, I began using high-speed digital cameras to capture lightning.  My image and video galleries can be found at my SmugMug, YouTube and Vimeo channels

This blog is intended for the non-formal sharing of conceptual ideas, research progress and preliminary observations relating to my research and photography.  Formal peer-reviewed research findings will be found in my journal publications.

Back in 2008, I participated in a segment for the Discovery Channel’s Raging Planet series. You can see the segment below.

From 2008 to 2015, I focused primarily on upward lightning research and was the co-principal investigator for the National Science Foundation funded Upward Lightning Triggering Study, which took place in Rapid City from 2012 – 2014.  Collaborative partners over that last ten years included the National Institute for Space Research – INPE, Brazil, Texas A&M University, National Severe Storms Lab, National Weather Service Forecast Office in Rapid City, University of Arizona, Vaisala, Inc., New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, FMA Research Inc., University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and many Rapid City community members and citizen scientists who graciously volunteered their property and assistance for some of our instrumentation.

As I finalize analyses of UPLIGHTS data, my focus has turned away from lightning research and toward traveling abroad with my family.  As we travel, I have been fortunate enough to continue to contribute to weather research by managing instrumentation aboard our ship which collects solar radiation, cloud coverage, precipitation and meteorological data from around the world.  I continue to collaborate on lightning research with colleagues in South Africa and Brazil where most of my high-speed cameras remain hard at work.  I also try to collaborate with citizen scientists both here in the US and Australia when possible.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the following individuals for their help in my journey to understand lightning.

Marcelo Saba, Carina Schumann, Richard Orville, Walt Lyons, Mike Bickett, John Helsdon, Andy Detwiler, Paul Krehbiel, Bill Rison, Ron Thomas, Julia Tilles, Alana Ballweber, Ryan Lueck, John Hamilton, Chip Redmond, Dan McKemy, Vlad Mazur, Lothar Ruhnke, Tom Marshall, Maribeth Stolzenburg, Sumedhe Karunarathne, Nadeeka Karunarathne, Matt Bunkers, Ken Cummins, Phil Krider, Leandro Campos, Jeferson Alves,  Jon Meyer, Lisa Phillips, Nick Demetriades, Ron Holle, Scott Rudge, Donna and Charles Kliche, Gerhard Diendorfer, Wolfgang Schulz, Jamiason Carrier, Dave Carpenter, Eric Helgeson, Greg Leyh, Keith Gibson, Dan Robinson, Kelli Oedekoven, Liz and Randy Hamburg, David Miller, Eric Abrahamson and Lois Facer, Jim Hansen, Thomas Montoya, Ali Hussein, Elizabeth and Wilke See-Tho.

%d bloggers like this: