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Lightning is a natural electrical phenomena that transfers electric charge between clouds, as well as to ground. In Johannesburg, we are exposed to an average of 15 to 20 flashes per square kilometer per year - a high flash density for a country’s main economic centre. At the Johannesburg Lightning Research Laboratory, we aim to harness this flash density and continue South Africa’s rich history of lightning research, making measurements of ground-truth lightning events to better understand the physics and behaviour of the lightning phenomenon with an aim to improving lightning protection systems and human safety.

We are based in the School of Electrical and Information Engineering at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesbrug (Wits). Wits is the top ranked university in South Africa and is ranked in the top 200 universities in the world. It is also where Sir Basil Schonland founded the Bernard Price Institute of Geophysics in 1937 and made significant contributions to early lightning photography and research.

Our researchers’ fields of expertise range from lightning physics and detection, to protection and earthing systems along with human safety and awareness. Currently, our main research areas are:

High Speed Lightning StudiesLightning Detection and MeasurementLightning Safety and Awareness

Please find our researchers on Google Scholar, ORCID and Researchgate: The Team.

We work closely with our colleagues in the Electric Power Research Group and the Centre of Excellence in High-Voltage as well as the School of Geosciences. We also have strong external partnerships including the the South African Weather Service (SAWS), the South African Institute of Electrical Engineering (SAIEE), the Earthing and Lightning Protection Association (ELPA), the University of Pretoria, the University of Kwa/Zulu Natal, Sentech, the National Research Foundation, CSIR, DEHNAfrica, ESKOM, ENGENAMIC, TerraTech as well as international collaborators in Tom Warner of ZTResearch USA, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) Brazil, the Austrian Lightning Detection and information System (ALDIS) Austria, STARNET, STORM-T, ACLENet, and EarthNetworks.