Lightning Likes Land

May 19, 1998

Lightning likes land more than water, according to the first three months' of images of data from NASA's Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS). It's not just that most lightning occurs over land. From December 1997 through January 1998, LIS saw that 90 percent of lightning was over land, a significant finding.

"We believe that the increased lightning activity over land is primarily due to enhanced convection - continual overturning of the atmosphere that occurs as water, evaporated from the Earth's surface, carries excess heat energy into the upper atmosphere," said Dr. Hugh Christian, the principal investigator for the Lightning Imaging Sensor at the Global Hydrology and Climate Center in Huntsville.

"Specifically, convection is just much stronger over land. This results in greater ice production and, consequently, more lightning."

Since its launch on Nov. 27 aboard the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, a NASA-Japan project, LIS has worked beyond expectations. It has filters and a solid-state camera designed to see just the light from a lightning flash, day or night, and even from cloud-to-cloud. These images are combined with images from three other TRMM instruments, including radar, to determine the relationship of lightning and storm structures and activities.

"The beauty of this mission is that the unique array of instruments aboard the spacecraft allows us to test this hypothesis time and again," Christian said of the find. "This mission will enable us to gain fundamental insights into the properties of these convective storms and thus better estimate the effects on global weather patterns."

Ultimately, Christian and other LIS team members envision placing an advanced Lightning Mapping Sensor aboard a geostationary weather satellite to provide rapid, precise warnings of intense thunderstorms that usually precede tornadoes.
-end-


NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center--Space Sciences Laboratory

Related Atmosphere Articles from Brightsurf:

ALMA shows volcanic impact on Io's atmosphere
New radio images from ALMA show for the first time the direct effect of volcanic activity on the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Io.

New study detects ringing of the global atmosphere
A ringing bell vibrates simultaneously at a low-pitched fundamental tone and at many higher-pitched overtones, producing a pleasant musical sound. A recent study, just published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences by scientists at Kyoto University and the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, shows that the Earth's entire atmosphere vibrates in an analogous manner, in a striking confirmation of theories developed by physicists over the last two centuries.

Estuaries are warming at twice the rate of oceans and atmosphere
A 12-year study of 166 estuaries in south-east Australia shows that the waters of lakes, creeks, rivers and lagoons increased 2.16 degrees in temperature and increased acidity.

What makes Saturn's atmosphere so hot
New analysis of data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft found that electric currents, triggered by interactions between solar winds and charged particles from Saturn's moons, spark the auroras and heat the planet's upper atmosphere.

Galactic cosmic rays affect Titan's atmosphere
Planetary scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) revealed the secrets of the atmosphere of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.

Physics: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere
Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

Using lasers to visualize molecular mysteries in our atmosphere
Molecular interactions between gases and liquids underpin much of our lives, but difficulties in measuring gas-liquid collisions have so far prevented the fundamental exploration of these processes.

The atmosphere of a new ultra hot Jupiter is analyzed
The combination of observations made with the CARMENES spectrograph on the 3.5m telescope at Calar Alto Observatory (Almería), and the HARPS-N spectrograph on the National Galileo Telescope (TNG) at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Garafía, La Palma) has enabled a team from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and from the University of La Laguna (ULL) to reveal new details about this extrasolar planet, which has a surface temperature of around 2000 K.

An exoplanet loses its atmosphere in the form of a tail
A new study, led by scientists from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), reveals that the giant exoplanet WASP-69b carries a comet-like tail made up of helium particles escaping from its gravitational field propelled by the ultraviolet radiation of its star.

Iron and titanium in the atmosphere of an exoplanet
Exoplanets can orbit close to their host star. When the host star is much hotter than our sun, then the exoplanet becomes as hot as a star.

Read More: Atmosphere News and Atmosphere Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.