Phillip Bitzer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Atmospheric and Earth Science


301 Sparkman Drive
Room 224
Huntsville, AL 35899
Campus Map



I am interested in a wide variety of lightning physics questions. I consider myself primarily an "instrument guy" - someone who develops instrumentation to better understand the underlying nature of how lightning works. There is also a very real societal impact related to lightning research. To that end, I am also involved in investigations how to better explore this important area of lightning research, particularly how lightning and lightning energetics relate to severe weather.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Bachelor of Science, Physics; Magma Cum Laude, August 2001 Loyola University, New Orleans, LA
  • Master of Science, Physics; August 2007 University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Physics; August 2011 University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL Dissertation title: New Revelations on Lightning Initiation and Evolution Using a Newly Developed Array of Wideband Electric Field Sensors


  • Lightning Instrumentation
  • Lightning Initiation
  • Lightning Imaging Sensor
  • Geostationary Lightning Mapper
  • Dual Polarimetric Radar

Recent Publications

  • P. M. Bitzer, J. C. Burchfield, and H. J. Christian. (2015) Determination of detection efficiency of lightning detection systems using Bayesian analysis. Presented at 2015 Meeting of the American Meteorological Society.

  • Bitzer, P. M. (2014). The occurrence of continuing current in lightning. Presented at 2014 American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting.

  • Carlson, B. E., Liang, C., Bitzer, P. M., and Christian, H. J. (2014). Time domain simulations of preliminary breakdown pulses in lightning. J. Geophys. Res., Accepted.

  • Bitzer, P. M. and Christian, H. J. (2014) A comparison of space based optical measurements and ground based VLF measurements Presented at 2014 Meeting of the American Meteorological Society.

  • Yanoviak, S., Gora, E., Fredley, J., Bitzer, P. M., Muzika, R., Carson, W., and Yanoviak, S. (2014). Direct effects of lightning in temperate forests: a review and preliminary survey in a hemlock-hardwood forest of the northern United States. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, submitted.

  • Goodman, S. J., Bateman, M., Bitzer, P. M., Carcione, B., Calhoun, K. M., Cummins, K., and Rudlosky, S. D. (2014) A total lightning product monitor, Presented at 2014 Meeting of the American Meteorological Society.

  • Bitzer, P.M. and Christian, H. J. (2014). Timing uncertainty of the Lightning Imaging Sensor. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 32(3):453–460.

  • Matthee, R., Mecikalski, J., Carey, L., and Bitzer, P. M. (2014). Quantitative Differences Between Lightning and Non–Lightning Convective Rainfall Events As Observed with Dual– Polarimetric Radar and MSG Satellite Data Monthly Weather Review, 142(10):3651–3665

  • Bitzer, P.M.; H.J. Christian; M. Stewart; J. Burchfield; S. Podgorny; D. Corredor; J. Hall; E. Kuznetsov; V. Franklin (2013). Characterization and applications of VLF/LF source locations from lightning using the Huntsville Alabama Marx Meter Array. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 118(8):3120–3138

  • Bitzer, P. M., Christian, H. J., Franklin, V., Brunner-Miller, K., Burchfield, J. C., and Walker, T. D. (2013). LIS groups and electric fields and the relationship to neutralized charge, Geostationary Lightning Mapper Annual Science Meeting