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An Overview of Lightning Locating Systems: History, Techniques, and Data Uses, With an In-Depth Look at the U.S. NLDN

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2 Author(s)
Kenneth L. Cummins ; Dept. of Atmos. Sci., Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA ; Martin J. Murphy

Lightning in all corners of the world is monitored by one or more land- or space-based lightning locating systems (LLSs). The applications that have driven these developments are numerous and varied. This paper describes the history leading to modern LLSs that sense lightning radiation fields at multiple remote sensors, focusing on the interactions between enabling technology, scientific discovery, technical development, and uses of the data. An overview of all widely used detection and location methods is provided, including a general discussion of their relative strengths and weaknesses for various applications. The U.S. National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) is presented as a case study, since this LLS has been providing real-time lightning information since the early 1980s, and has provided continental-scale (U.S.) information to research and operational users since 1989. This network has also undergone a series of improvements during its >20-year life in response to evolving detection technologies and expanding requirements for applications. Recent analyses of modeled and actual performance of the current NLDN are also summarized. The paper concludes with a view of the short- and long-term requirements for improved lightning measurements that are needed to address some open scientific questions and fill the needs of emerging applications.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility  (Volume:51 ,  Issue: 3 )