YEREVAN— In the fall of 2013, the Cosmic Ray Division (CRD) of the Yerevan Physics Institute joined the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN), which is managed by the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash. The network detects very low frequency (VLF) radio waves emitted by lightning strikes. Research in this field has a number of applications in the scientific, commercial, and government sectors

Photo 1 lightning effects 300x225 Armenia Joins ‘Lightning Location Network’ 

Thunderstorm modulation effects

The CRD operates a unique geophysical network of environmental monitors. The network is unusual due to the numerous climatic zones in Armenia, with its high mountains and high mountain lakes, and frequent severe lightning storms. This network is instrumented with electric field strength meters, lightning detectors, meteorological stations, and advanced cosmic ray particle detectors designed in Armenia.

Young students and recent graduates play a key part in Armenia’s research in this field, which could provide a better understanding of the electric currents circulating the globe at very high altitudes; shed light on global warming and atmospheric discharges; and provide warnings of severe storms and hail for agriculture.

Localization of lightning strikes requires the precise timing of the VLF radio signals by at least five monitoring stations. Upon joining WWLLN, the CRD installed monitoring stations in Yerevan, on the slope of Mt. Aragats, and near Lake Sevan. The stations in Armenia filled a crucial void, as there are no other stations for thousands of kilometers to the east or west; the nearest station to the southwest is in Tel Aviv. Integration of Armenia’s stations into the WWLLN will help Armenia calibrate its stations and will provide enhanced research worldwide.

Recent post-doctoral students Levon Vanyan and Tigran Karapetyan are already making their mark in the field, having received a number of invitations to present their important research at international scientific conferences.

Hripsime Mkrtchyan, who received her master’s degree last year, has entered the Ph.D. program at the Yerevan Physics Institute and is specializing in cosmic ray

Photo 2 WWLN IMG 0637 1 300x185 Armenia Joins ‘Lightning Location Network’ 

Some of CRD’s new scientists (L-R) Ashot Hovhannisyan, Levon Vanyan, Hripsime Mkrtchyan, Hasmik Rostomyan, Tatev Sargsyan, and Tigran Karapetyan





physics; the director of the Yerevan Physics Institute, Prof. Ashot Chilingarian, is her advisor. Mkrtchyan is one of the Kirakos Vaporciyan scholars, and is supported by the Kirakos Vaporciyan scholarship endowment established in memory of the late Kirakos Vaporciyan by his family in Michigan.

Another young scholar, Hasmig Rostomyan, who recently received her master’s degree in physics, is preparing to join the Yerevan Physics Institute Ph.D. program in cosmic ray physics this fall while continuing to work at the CRD. Two new master’s and bachelor’s students from Yerevan State University, Ashot Hovhannisyan and Tatev Sargsyan, are also interning at the CRD.