Ligntning Imaging Sensor

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The Lightning Image Sensor detects lightning on a global scale

The Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) is a space based instrument used to detect the distribution and variability of total lightning (cloud-to-cloud, intracloud, and cloud-to-ground lightning) that occurs in the tropical regions of the globe. LIS was launched in November 1997 aboard NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM).

A 14 year global lightning data archive has been developed from the Lightning Imaging Sensor. This archive is maintained at the Global Hydrology Resource Center (GHRC) in Huntsville Alabama, one of NASA’s Earth science data centers, managed by the Information Technology and Systems Center of UAHuntsville. This is the most comprehensive global lightning data archive ever produced and is noteworthy for its high spatial resolution, detection efficiency, coverage, and ten year plus (ongoing mission) period of record.

All LIS data are available to the research community and may be accessed from the GHRC. LIS data are organized by areas, flashes, groups and events. Areas are distinct regions of the earth which have one or more flashes in a given orbit. They are meant to roughly correspond to individual thunderstorm cells. Flashes are collections of pulse groups. Groups are collections of pulse events occurring within a two millisecond time span, which are also physically adjacent to each other.

The archive of lightning data from LIS and its predecessor the Optical Transient Detector along with derived products, validation data, and terrestrial lightning data make up a unique resource for atmospheric electricity and lightning studies.

Summary of global lightning detected with the LIS instrument
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