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The 13 years of TRMM Lightning Imaging Sensor: From Individual Flash Characteristics to Decadal TendenciesHow often lightning strikes the Earth has been the object of interest and research for decades. Several authors estimated different global flash rates using ground-based instruments, but it has been the satellite era that enabled us to monitor lightning thunderstorm activity on the time and place that lightning exactly occurs. Launched into space as a component of NASA s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, in November 1997, the Lighting Imaging Sensor (LIS) is still operating. LIS detects total lightning (i.e., intracloud and cloud-to-ground) from space in a low-earth orbit (35deg orbit). LIS has collected lightning measurements for 13 years (1998-2010) and here we present a fully revised and current total lightning climatology over the tropics. Our analysis includes the individual flash characteristics (number of events and groups, total radiance, area footprint, etc.), composite climatological maps, and trends for the observed total lightning during these 13 years. We have identified differences in the energetics of the flashes and/or the optical scattering properties of the storms cells due to cell-relative variations in microphysics and kinematics (i.e., convective or stratiform rainfall). On the climatological total lightning maps we found a dependency on the scale of analysis (resolution) in identifying the lightning maximums in the tropics. The analysis of total lightning trends observed by LIS from 1998 to 2010 in different temporal (annual and seasonal) and spatial (large and regional) scales, showed no systematic trends in the median to lower-end of the distributions, but most places in the tropics presented a decrease in the highest total lightning flash rates (higher-end of the distributions).
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Marshall Space Flight Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Albrecht, R. I.
(Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espacias Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil)
Goodman, S. J.
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Camp Springs, MD, United States)
Petersen, W. A.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Buechler, D. E.
(Alabama Univ. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Bruning, E. C.
(Texas Tech Univ. Lubbock, TX, United States)
Blakeslee, R. J.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Christian, H. J.
(Alabama Univ. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
August 8, 2011
Subject Category
Meteorology And Climatology
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: XIV ICAE: International Conference on Atmospheric Electricity
Location: Rio de Janeiro
Country: Brazil
Start Date: August 7, 2011
End Date: August 12, 2011
Sponsors: International Commission of Atmospheric Electricity
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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