Lightning Map

December 20, 2001


Provided by: NSSTC/GHCC Lightning Team
Summary authors & editors: Martin Ruzek; Science@NASA

The Optical Transient Detector (OTD) and the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) are two space-based optical detectors that have been giving researchers their first complete picture of planet-wide lightning activity. These infrared sensors can spot brief lightning flashes even under daytime conditions. Colors as shown in the map above correlate to the frequency of lightning strikes, and the units listed are flashes/square kilometer/year. Some interesting patterns can be seen – lightning is rare at the poles or over the open ocean while Florida, Argentina, central Africa and northern Pakistan and India experience some of the most intense lightning on the planet due to the local and regional airflow patterns. The satellite data also track patterns of lightning intensity over time. In the northern hemisphere, for example, most lightning happens during the summer months. But in equatorial regions, lightning appears more often during the fall and spring. Worried about lightning ruining your golf game? Try a course on the Egypt-Libya border - lightning almost never strikes there …

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