Lightning is a brief but intense electrical discharge between positive and negative regions of a thunderstorm. The Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was designed to study the distribution and variability of total lightning on a global basis. The Optical Transient Detector (OTD) was an earlier lightning detector flying aboard the Microlab-1 spacecraft. The data shown here are compiled from LIS (1998-2002) and OTD (1995-1999) observations. Because each satellite saw only a part of the Earth at any one time, these data use complex algorithms to estimate total flash rate based on the flashes observed and the amount of time the satellite views each area.
NOTE: This animation is primarily designed to be used through the Web Mapping Services (WMS) protocol. Each frame in the animation actually represents an accumulation of a number of years of data up through a particular day of the year. Because of a limitation in the WMS protocol, each frame is marked only with a single date representing the last date for which the data was accumulated.
This animation shows an accumulation of daily
lightning climatology values for a typical year. That is, the
first frame shows the number of flashes per square kilometer
that occurred on a typical January 1 during the multi-year data
collection period, the second frame shows the total of Jan 1 and
Jan 2 flashes, the third frame shows Jan 1 through Jan 3, and so
on until the last frame (#365) which shows the total
accumulation for a typical year. As the year progresses, more
and more of the Earth experiences lightning, and hard-hit areas
experience more strikes. The most intense activity is in central
Africa. Areas where no lightning was measured are transparent,
letting the background image show through. The data pixels are
2.5deg on a side (144x72 pixels globally), and each frame has
been magnified to 720x360 pixels for greater
Data Used: Microlab-1/OTD/Lightning
1995/04 - 1999
1998 - 2002/12
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.
GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 18.104.22.168.0