Three Years of the Lightning Imaging Sensor Onboard the International Space Station: Expanded Global Coverage and Enhanced Applications

Richard J. Blakeslee, Timothy J. Lang*, William J. Koshak, Dennis Buechler, Patrick Gatlin, Douglas M. Mach, Geoffrey T. Stano, Katrina S. Virts, Thomas Daniel Walker, Daniel J. Cecil, Will Ellett, Steven J. Goodman, Sherry Harrison, Donald L. Hawkins, Matthias Heumesser, Hong Lin, Manil Maskey, Christopher J. Schultz, Michael Stewart, Monte BatemanOlivier Chanrion, Hugh Christian

*Corresponding author for this work

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The Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in February 2017, detecting optical signatures of lightning with storm‐scale horizontal resolution during both day and night. ISS LIS data are available beginning 1 March 2017. Millisecond timing allows detailed intercalibration and validation with other spaceborne and ground‐based lightning sensors. Initial comparisons with those other sensors suggest flash detection efficiency around 60% (diurnal variability of 51–75%), false alarm rate under 5%, timing accuracy better than 2 ms, and horizontal location accuracy around 3 km. The spatially uniform flash detection capability of ISS LIS from low‐Earth orbit allows assessment of spatially varying flash detection efficiency for other sensors and networks, particularly the Geostationary Lightning Mappers. ISS LIS provides research data suitable for investigations of lightning physics, climatology, thunderstorm processes, and atmospheric composition, as well as real‐time lightning data for operational forecasting and aviation weather interests. ISS LIS enables enrichment and extension of the long‐term global climatology of lightning from space and is the only recent platform that extends the global record to higher latitudes (±55°). The global spatial distribution of lightning from ISS LIS is broadly similar to previous data sets, with globally averaged seasonal/annual flash rates about 5–10% lower. This difference is likely due to reduced flash detection efficiency that will be mitigated in future ISS LIS data processing, as well as the shorter ISS LIS period of record. The expected land/ocean contrast in the diurnal variability of global lightning is also observed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020JD032918
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number16
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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