Dr. Eric Bruning

Associate Professor

Texas Tech University / Atmospheric Science Group

Ph.D. Research Assistantship
Starting Spring or Fall 2018

The Atmospheric Science Group in the Department of Geosciences has an immediate opening for a PhD student to work on problems related to atmospheric electricity, lightning, and the turbulence kinetics of deep convection, using two summers of data from the Kinematic Texture and Lightning Experiment, our recent field campaign sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Data from the West Texas Lightning Mapping Array provided information about the way lightning fills the volume of the cloud, and the distribution of lightning flash sizes, which are related to the energy dissipated by each flash. Continuous, 10s RHI data along intersecting, perpendicular planes from the TTU Ka-band mobile radars at 9 m range and 0.33 deg azimuthal resolution provided a novel view of the turbulence kinetics, including the prospect of resolving the outer length scale of turbulence in deep convection. Sounding data collected in the near-storm environment are suitable for use in simulations of the observed storms. Together, these data allow for the study of the fundamental processes that couple the fluid and electrical properties, and their scale-dependent spatiotemporal distributions, in real thunderstorms. The ideal applicant will have an interest in the quantitative study of the fluid physics of turbulence, linking theory to the radar observations to quantify the eddy scale kinetics. In collaboration with others in the lightning group, we expect to find insights concerning the eddy-scale distribution of charge and its subsequent effects on the distribution of lightning flash sizes. Proposals for related research using these or similar data are welcome as well. Interested applicants should contact Eric Bruning with any questions.


Dr. Bruning specializes in the relationships of storm electrification and lightning to the thermodynamics, microphysics, kinematics, and dynamics of thunderstorms. Observational studies of lightning facilitate knowledge transfer to forecasters in the operational use of lightning data, which is expected to to grow with the launch of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper on GOES-R. The VHF-band West Texas Lightning Mapping Array facilitates observational studies of lightning. Lightning data are typically synthesized with weather radar data to provide meteorological context.

Three research emphases characterize the current work in Dr. Bruning's group.

  1. Electrification's dependence on cloud microphysical conditions, including the impact of environmental thermodynamics and entrainment
  2. The distribution of flash sizes and electrical energy, and the role of turbulent kinematic trajectories in organizing the texture of charge
  3. Lightning physics during the discharge process, including processes by which optical and RF emission take place during leader steps and current flows
Together, these interests encompass the the conditions for microscale electrification, the distribution of electrical energy, and the means by which it is dissipated.

Other interests include data visualization, the Python programming language, and the history and philosophy of science.

Contact information

Dr. Eric Bruning
Department of Geosciences,
Atmospheric Science Group
Texas Tech University
Box 41053
Lubbock, TX 79409-1053
Phone: (806) 834-3120
firstname dot lastname at ttu.edu