Atmospheric Sciences Editors' Highlights

A New Look at Global Lightning from the Space Station

The Lightning Imaging Sensor on the International Space Station provides an expanded view of global lightning that improves scientific understanding of the Earth as well as public safety.

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres


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One of the instruments aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is a Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS), which is providing new data and a global perspective on lightning.

Blakeslee et al. [2020] present three years of lightning data (March 2017 to February 2020), which has been validated with data from other spaceborne and ground‐based lightning sensors. The data has timing accuracy better than 2 milliseconds, horizontal location accuracy around 3 kilometers, and space coverage from the latitude of 55oN to 55oS. These resolutions and coverage have never been achieved before.

The realtime data from ISS LIS have enabled new applications for the benefit of the public, including weather forecasting and public safety. The instrument is also serving as a standard for comparison to other spaceborne lightning sensors such as the Geostationary Lightning Mapper. Finally, ISS LIS – in conjunction with other satellite instruments – is providing opportunities for new scientific study in areas such as lightning physics, thunderstorm processes, and atmospheric composition.

Citation: Blakeslee, R.J., Lang, T.J., Koshak, W.J., Buechler, D., Gatlin, P., Mach, D.M., Stano, G.T., Virts, K.S., Walker, T.D., Cecil, D.J., Ellett, W., Goodman, S.J., Harrison, S., Hawkins, D.L., Heumesser, M., Lin, H., Maskey, M., Schultz, C.J., Stewart, M., Bateman, M., Chanrion, O. and Christian, H. (2020), Three Years of the Lightning Imaging Sensor Onboard the International Space Station: Expanded Global Coverage and Enhanced Applications. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 125: e2020JD032918. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JD032918

—Minghua Zhang, Editor in Cheif, JGR: Atmospheres

Text © 2020. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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