UF Physics graduate student Istvan Kereszy has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship for 2021. As part of the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program, the Fulbright program involves the participation of a large set of collaborating partners in supporting Fulbright fellows at the University of Florida.
As a recipient of the Fulbright fellowship (February-November, 2021), Istvan will collaborate with the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais – INPE) in São José dos Campos and experimentally research ground-based lightning detectors at the Federal University of Para in Belém (Amazon region of Brazil). This collaboration will allow Istvan to calibrate satellite data over the Brazilian Amazon, develop realistic non-linear climate change models, and mitigate severe weather related casualties.
Istvan’s research focus is lightning, climate change, and high-energy atmospheric physics. Lightning rates are accurate non-linear indicators of changes in several climate parameters. Current lightning detection efficiencies allow us to acquire high quality lightning data that can be used to precisely model the effects of climate change in Florida; however, similar data are severely limited and unreliable in the Brazilian Amazon. This means that high resolution localized climate change models are missing, which limits our understanding of how climate change will affect specific regions, local populations, and biomes within the Amazon. In addition, there is a positive feedback loop between lightning and climate change, as lightning is the number one non-human cause of wildfires, and climate change increases the number of lightning strikes and prolonged droughts, leading to further lightning-initiated wildfires.
Congratulations on this award, Istvan!