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A Global LIS/OTD Climatology of Lightning Flash Extent Density
  • Michael Jay Peterson,
  • Douglas Michael Mach,
  • Dennis E. Buechler
Michael Jay Peterson
ISR-2,Los Alamos National Laboratory

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Douglas Michael Mach
Universities Space Research Association
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Dennis E. Buechler
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Previous lightning climatologies derived from Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) and Optical Transient Detector (OTD) total lightning measurements have quantified lightning frequency as a Flash Rate Density (FRD). This approach assumes that lightning flashes can be represented as points, and quantifies the frequency of lightning centered in each grid cell. However, lightning has a finite extent that can reach hundreds of kilometers. A new climatology based on Flash Extent Density (FED) is constructed for LIS (including ISS-LIS) and OTD that accounts for the horizontal dimension of lightning. The FED climatology documents the frequency that an observer can expect lightning to be visible overhead - regardless of where the flash began or ended. This new FED climatology confirms and elaborates on the previous global LIS / OTD FRD and Americas-only Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) findings. Applying GLM reprocessing codes to LIS and OTD data reveals cases of megaflashes measured from Low Earth Orbit that were artificially split by the LIS / OTD clustering algorithms. The FED climatology maintains Lake Maracaibo as the global lightning hotspot with an average of 389 flashes / day, but designates Karabre in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the global thunderstorm duty (percent of the total viewtime where lightning is observed) hotspot at 7.29%. Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur is the national capital city with the most lightning, and its airport (KUL) is the top major airport affected by lightning. The FED seasonal cycle and month-to-month changes in the “center of lightning” for the three continental chimney regions are also discussed.
27 Apr 2021Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres volume 126 issue 8. 10.1029/2020JD033885