Todd Anderson's Profile Picture

Todd Anderson (he/him)
Graduate Student
Office: JHN 266
Email: [javascript protected email address]
Interests: Space plasma physics, atmospheric electrodynamics (e.g. lightning), and the interactions between lightning and Earth's ionosphere and magnetosphere.

Research Interests
I am interested in the impacts of lightning and other atmospheric electrical phenomena, as well as solar events, on the near-Earth space environment. Lightning is potentially the principal driver of the global electric circuit (GEC), and very low frequency (VLF) radio waves generated by lightning are key drivers of electron precipitation from the Earth's radiation belts, and can be used as a diagnostic of the Earth-ionosphere waveguide (EIWG) and lower ionosphere. Because VLF radio waves propagate very long distances in the EIWG, and lightning detection networks are distributed widely around the world, sensing these waves can be a powerful method of characterizing changes in the Earth's lower ionosphere. I use global lightning data, as well as data from numerous spacecraft, to address these research topics. To that end, I help build and maintain stations for the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN;, which uses ~100 stations all over the world to detect VLF waves generated by lightning and locate lightning strokes. I am also involved in the design, fabrication, validation and deployment of stratospheric balloon payloads. In particular, I designed instruments used to measure the 3-axis electric field and conductivity in the stratosphere, in order to compare the fair-weather return current of the GEC to global thunderstorm area. Two balloons carrying these instruments were launched in June 2021.
In The News
Hannah Hickey, UWToday: "How Lightning Strikes Can Improve Storm Forecasts" -- Naval Research Laboratory press release about the Charged Aerosol Release Experiment II (CARE II) rocket launch on 9/16/2015 --