Kenneth L. Cummins

Research Associate, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
Research Professor, Department of Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences at Florida Institute of Technology

Expertise  Dr. Cummins’ current research is focused in two broad areas: applied research on the physics and phenomenology of lightning, and intercomparison/validation of remote-sensing instruments and systems used in atmospheric electricity. Recent work on lightning physics and phenomenology includes the use of multiple high-speed cameras, lightning locations systems, direct lightning current measurements, and remote electric and magnetic field measurements to study the incidence, ground/tower attachment, and behavior of cloud-to ground lightning. Specific recent applications include (1) exploring the differences in lightning behavior over land and ocean; (2) studying upward leaders and lightning attachment to a moderate-height instrumented tower; (3) evaluating the time-evolution of surface-measured quasi-static electric fields during fair-weather and thunderstorm development and decay; (4) studying the impact of terrain variations on the strike location and parameters of cloud-to-ground lightning. Recent work in this last area involves high-resolution (sub-kilometer) mapping of lightning parameters onto a 30 arc-second digital elevation model, and evaluating the effects of terrain gradient and meteorological forcing. Recent validation work has focused on intercomparing the new geostationary lightning mappers on GOES satellites with other ground-based and low-earth-orbit lightning mapping systems.


  • PHD electrical engineering (digital and statistical signal processing and physiological modeling) 1978, Stanford University