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Global Lightning ActivityOur knowledge of the global distribution of lightning has improved dramatically since the advent of spacebased lightning observations. Of major importance was the 1995 launch of the Optical Transient Detector (OTD), followed in 1997 by the launch of the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS). Together, these instruments have generated a continuous eight-year record of global lightning activity. These lightning observations have provided a new global perspective on total lightning activity. For the first time, total lightning activity (cloud-to-ground and intra-cloud) has been observed over large regions with high detection efficiency and accurate geographic location. This has produced new insights into lightning distributions, times of occurrence and variability. It has produced a revised global flash rate estimate (44 flashes per second) and has lead to a new realization of the significance of total lightning activity in severe weather. Accurate flash rate estimates are now available over large areas of the earth (+/- 72 deg. latitude). Ocean-land contrasts as a function of season are clearly reveled, as are orographic effects and seasonal and interannual variability. The space-based observations indicate that air mass thunderstorms, not large storm system dominate global activity. The ability of LIS and OTD to detect total lightning has lead to improved insight into the correlation between lightning and storm development. The relationship between updraft development and lightning activity is now well established and presents an opportunity for providing a new mechanism for remotely monitoring storm development. In this concept, lightning would serve as a surrogate for updraft velocity. It is anticipated that this capability could lead to significantly improved severe weather warning times and reduced false warning rates. This talk will summarize our space-based lightning measurements, will discuss how lightning observations can be used to monitor severe weather, and present a concept for continuous geostationary-based lightning observations.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Christian, Hugh J. (Alabama Univ. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
February 10, 2004
Subject Category
Meteorology and Climatology
Meeting Information
University of Mexico Presentation(Mexico City)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.