Tuesday, September 18, 2012

IRS Research Justification Report


Research topic: Environment
Chosen area of focus:  Investigation of the effect of humidity on the number of lightning strikes during a downpour in Singapore.

1) Framing our research topic
Our chosen area of focus is “Investigation of the effect of humidity on the number of lightning strikes during a downpour in Singapore.” We have chosen this topic because lightning strikes are one of the most deadly death causes in Singapore. It has been found that “The Republic has 0.35 lightning deaths per million people each year on average, compared to 0.2 in Britain and 0.6 in the United States.” It is quite a high number and in time to come, it may cause an increased number of unnecessary deaths caused by lightning strikes in Singapore. (Feng & Toh, 2011)

a. The reason why lightning Is formed is because the discharge of electrical energy that is formed in the clouds are accumulated and it strikes when the voltage is too high for the cloud to contain. The time that a bolt of lightning will strike is too hard to predict and the technology that we have now forbids us to do so. (Christian & McCook, n.d.)

b. Although there are ways to prevent being struck by lightning, some members of the public are unaware of this and may hide at a place which they deem is safe but is actually one of the most common places that a lightning would strike. An example is hiding under a tree. It is dangerous hiding under a tree especially if on an open field as the tree is standing alone and not crowded and like us, the tree is made up of a significant percentage of water, which is a conductor of electricity (lightning is made up of electricity). And also, since the ground is wet, it is easy for the lightning to flow through the ground and electrocute us, which can cause serious damage and sometimes even death.

c. Lightning strikes are unpredictable. With this research, we might be able to predict the number of lightning strikes by measuring the amount of humidity in the air and inform the public about their safety when outside.

2) Reasons for the choice of topic
a. We have chosen this topic as lightning is one of the most deadly death causes in Singapore. Singapore also has one of the highest lightning rate in the world. With this research, we would be able to spread awareness when the predicted number of lightning strikes would be too high and advise the public to be careful. (National Environment Agency, n.d.)

b. The topic will also be beneficial to the public as our research will be able to determine the number of lightning strikes by measuring the amount of humidity in the air and thus, inform the public to be aware.

3) Feasibility of the research
a. There is a need to carry out our research as lightning strikes are unpredictable and with Singapore having the highest lightning rate in the world, it is thus essential for us to carry out our research for the public to be aware when lightning strikes are vulnerable to death. (National Environment Agency, n.d.)

b. It is also possible to carry out the research in the science lab as the lab has most of the things that we need to use for our research.

c. The proposed course of action is also possible as we can use the equipments available in the lab and also purchase necessary equipments needed. A computer would be used to plot the graph through the whole day. To ensure reliability and accuracy of the data collection, we will be collecting data throughout the whole day for a scheduled period of time.

d. This research also provides a lot of opportunities for us to generate ideas and analysis is greatly required for data collection. We will need to relate the data collected to the minimum radio frequency at which a lightning strike is deadly and the amount of humidity at that time.
Overall, this research requires us to develop critical thinking and analysis.

4) Manageability of the research
a. With the help of our schedule manager, we will plan a schedule for our research. We will try not to get out of point from our main target and stay on track during the course of the research.

b. This research topic also will enable a lot of group work as we need to carry out quite a number of experiments and there will also be a lot of data collection. We will try to divide the work among us so that the research can be done quickly and efficiently.

c. We will definitely be facing difficulties along the course of the research, such as the lack of communication among group members and the lack of free time from our packed schedules. Through Whatsapp, Facebook and SMS, communication would not be a hassle with the availability of a vast range of communication means.

d. We would only focus on selected areas in Singapore which would ensure the manageability of our research as it would not be too tedious.

5) The accessibility of the information required
a. The information that will be relevant to our research will be the number of lightning strikes recorded during a downpour, the amount of humidity in the air when a lightning strikes and the number of lightning strikes recorded to be considered dangerous.

b. We will get the information from primary and secondary sources, the results and observations of our experiments, depending on which is more reliable.

c. If there is a need, we will interview experts who are experienced in this field.

National Environment Agency. [n.d.]. Lightning. Meteorogical Service Singapore.
Retrieved date 1st Sep 2012, from
Feng Zengkun & Kazia Toh. [22 Nov 2011]. Lightning City. Wild Singapore.
Retrieved date 1st Sep 2012, from
Dr. Hugh J. Christian and Melanie A. McCook [n.d.]. A Lightning Primer. NASA.
Retrieved date 1st Sep 2012, from

Dan Breed and Bob Henson. [5 April 2000] Lightning: FAQ. UCAR Communications.
Retrieved date 1st Sep 2012, from

Rakov, Vladimir A. and Uman, Martin A. (2003). Lightning: Physics and effects. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521583276.

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