Friday, 20 October, 2017

Watch Lightning Strike the Earth from Outer Space

NOAA  NASA           GOES-16 Lightning Mapper NOAA NASA GOES-16 Lightning Mapper
Heather Davidson | 08 March, 2017, 00:25

A new satellite can capture lightning strikes from space, giving forecasters a better picture of what's happening during a storm.

Since its launch in November and going online a few weeks later, the GOES-16 weather satellite has already sent back a trove of invaluable data to its operator, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The mapper spots lightning flashes in the western hemisphere, letting forecasters know a storm is brewing. Rapid increases of lightning are a signal that a storm is strengthening quickly and could produce severe weather.

Information captured by the lightning detector will also help forecasters predict any kind of wildfires caused due to heavy lightning, especially in the dry areas like the Western U.S.

In addition, the GLM can detect in-cloud lightning, which occurs five to ten minutes before lightning strikes the ground. The brightest storm system is located over the Gulf Coast of Texas, the same storm system in the accompanying video.

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This monitoring will help forecasters issue more precise weather warnings for people on the ground, at sea and in the air, he added. And the country's most advanced weather satellite began Monday transmitting to Earth images and data related to lightning over the Western Hemisphere.

NOAA says the tool, unlike land-based radar, can accurately track thunderstorms over oceans, which will help in the navigation of planes and ships.

The images released today show lightning flashes over the course of an hour on February 14 around the Gulf of Mexico and in South America. This awareness could be used to alert organizers of outdoor events to a developing threat.

Also known as sprites, the electrical discharges are triggered by discharges of lightning taking place above the clouds. Processing the scene at 500 frames per second, the mapper could break down the location, intensity and other characteristics of individual lightning strokes.

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