Wednesday, 23 August, 2017

Zap Map: Satellite tracks lightning for better heads up

Lightning breaks during a thunderstorm in the Pakistani capital Islamabad New Satellite Using High Tech Sensors to Pinpoint Lightning Strikes AFP 2016 MASROOR GILANI
Garry Little | 07 March, 2017, 00:27

The lightning mapper is another useful tool, which in combination with other weather data, forecasters can use to provide life-saving information to the public such as issuing warnings quicker. This latest trove of data is a confirmation GOES-16 is poised to pay off. Now, for the first time, thanks to a new satellite instrument, forecasters are getting the best views ever of where lightning flashes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA launched the GOES-16 satellite last November to collect more useful data about global weather patterns to help meteorologists in forecasting.

In addition, the GLM can detect in-cloud lightning, which occurs five to ten minutes before lightning strikes the ground.

It continually monitors the Western Hemisphere, looking for lightning flashes that indicate when and where a storm is forming, and if it will become more risky.

A rapid increase in lightning is often a good indicator that a storm is intensifying and could produce risky weather, according to NASA.

A new weather satellite promises to deliver unprecedented data on Earth's lightning, and it has already captured its first spectacular images of storms from space.

The image shows that the brightest storm on this date took place over the Gulf Coast of Texas.

It will monitor hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, volcanic ash clouds, wildfires, lightning storms, and even solar flares.

The instrument is the first to observe lightning from geostationary orbit, which means it is always observing the same part of Earth.

The instrument can also show when a thunderstorm has stalled, or if it is gathering strength during heavy rains.

The GLM is operating aboard the GOES-16 satellite, which observes Earth from roughly 23,000 miles above the surface.

Pinpointing exactly where and when these risky bolts hit the Earth is key for forecasting severe weather outbreaks.

The new lightning mapper will also help forecasters and firefighters identify areas prone to fires sparked by lightning, NOAA says.

Combining the forces of two GOES-16 instruments, the Advanced Baseline Imager, or ABI, for cloud imaging and the never-before used lightning mapper - forecasters will be able alert people of developing threats.

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