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Remote Sensing of Lightning and Its Applications in Atmospheric Electricity Studies

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Atmospheric Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2022) | Viewed by 52900

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (CNR-ISAC), Via del Fosso del Cavaliere 100, Rome, Italy
Interests: numerical weather prediction; data assimilation; lightning forecast; precipitation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
School of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China
Interests: severe weather monitoring; transient luminous events (TLEs); lightning morphology and charge transfer
State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
Interests: lightning physics; lightning detection and location; rocket-triggered lightning

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Guest Editor
Nanjing Joint Institute for Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing, China
Interests: lightning physics; lightning mapping/imaging system; terrestrial gamma-ray flashes.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce a Special Issue on “Remote Sensing of Lightning and Its Applications to Atmospheric Electricity Studies”. Given the progress made in the capability to reveal more details involved in lightning development due to the application of lightning detection and mapping techniques in the various frequency bands, we are attaining more knowledge on lightning physics, especially the inception of lightning discharges inside thunderstorms, and their effects in the near-Earth space, such as transient luminous events (TLEs) and terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs).

This Special Issue invites manuscripts that focus on advancements in remote sensing of lightning properties, their application to understanding the lightning effects in our environment, and the monitoring and forecasting of lightning-associated deep convections that could also cause devastating weather.

We look forward to receiving your contributions to this Special Issue.

Dr. Stefano Federico
Dr. Gaopeng Lu
Dr. Yang Zhang
Dr. Fanchao Lyu
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • radio-frequency lightning signals
  • lightning mapping techniques
  • lightning physics
  • charge transfer of lightning
  • lightning morphology
  • lightning forecast and lightning data assimilation.

Published Papers (24 papers)

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15 pages, 5023 KiB  
Article
A Joint LINET and ISS-LIS View of Lightning Distribution over the Mt. Cimone Area within the GAMMA-FLASH Program
by Alessandra Tiberia, Enrico Arnone, Alessandro Ursi, Fabio Fuschino, Enrico Virgilli, Enrico Preziosi, Marco Tavani and Stefano Dietrich
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(14), 3501; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14143501 - 21 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1633
Abstract
Typical features of lightning distribution in the mountain area of Mt. Cimone (2165 m a.s.l., Northern-Central Italy) have been studied through detections provided by the ground-based LIghtning NETwork data (LINET) and the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) onboard the International Space Station (ISS-LIS). This [...] Read more.
Typical features of lightning distribution in the mountain area of Mt. Cimone (2165 m a.s.l., Northern-Central Italy) have been studied through detections provided by the ground-based LIghtning NETwork data (LINET) and the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) onboard the International Space Station (ISS-LIS). This study was performed within the context of the Gamma-Flash program, which includes the in situ observation of high-energy radiation (e.g., Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs), gamma-ray glows) and neutron emissions from thunderstorms at the mountain-top “O. Vittori” climate observatory. LINET VLF/LF radio measurements allowed the characterization of both cloud-to-ground (CG) and intra-cloud (IC) strokes’ geographical distribution and an altitude of occurrence from 2012 through 2020. The lightning distribution showed a remarkable clustering of CGs at the mountain top in contrast to a homogeneous distribution of ICs, highlighting the likely impact of orography. IC strokes peaked around 4 to 6 km altitude, in agreement with the observed typical cloud range. The joint exploitation of ISS-LIS optical observations of LINET detections extended the study to further features of flashes not seen in radio wavelengths and stands as the cross-validation of the two detection methods over such a complex orography. These results gave the quantitative indication of the expected occurrence of lightning and ionizing radiation emissions in the Mt. Cimone area and an example of mountain-driven changes in lightning occurrence. Full article
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25 pages, 6581 KiB  
Article
A Year-Long Total Lightning Forecast over Italy with a Dynamic Lightning Scheme and WRF
by Stefano Federico, Rosa Claudia Torcasio, Martina Lagasio, Barry H. Lynn, Silvia Puca and Stefano Dietrich
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(14), 3244; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14143244 - 6 Jul 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2819
Abstract
Lightning is an important threat to life and properties and its forecast is important for several applications. In this paper, we show the performance of the “dynamic lightning scheme” for next-day total strokes forecast. The predictions were compared against strokes recorded by a [...] Read more.
Lightning is an important threat to life and properties and its forecast is important for several applications. In this paper, we show the performance of the “dynamic lightning scheme” for next-day total strokes forecast. The predictions were compared against strokes recorded by a ground observational network for a forecast period spanning one year. Specifically, a total of 162 case studies were selected between 1 March 2020 and 28 February 2021, characterized by at least 3000 observed strokes over Italy. The events span a broad range of lightning intensity from about 3000 to 600,000 strokes in one day: 69 cases occurred in summer, 46 in fall, 18 in winter, and 29 in spring. The meteorological driver was the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model (version 4.1) and we focused on the next-day forecast. Strokes were simulated by adding three extra variables to WRF, namely, the potential energies for positive and negative cloud to ground flashes and intracloud strokes. Each potential energy is advected by WRF, it is built by the electrification processes occurring into the cloud, and it is dissipated by lightning. Observed strokes were remapped onto the WRF model grid with a 3 km horizontal resolution for comparison with the strokes forecast. Results are discussed for the whole year and for different seasons. Moreover, statistics are presented for the land and the sea. In general, the results of this study show that lightning forecast with the dynamic lightning scheme and WRF model was successful for Italy; nevertheless, a careful inspection of forecast performance is necessary for tuning the scheme. This tuning is dependent on the season. A numerical experiment changing the microphysics scheme used in WRF shows the sensitivity of the results according to the choice of the microphysics scheme. Full article
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17 pages, 5715 KiB  
Article
A Study on TGF Detectability at 2165 m Altitude: Estimates for the Mountain-Based Gamma-Flash Experiment
by Alessandro Ursi, Gonzalo Rodriguez Fernandez, Alessandra Tiberia, Enrico Virgilli, Enrico Arnone, Enrico Preziosi, Riccardo Campana and Marco Tavani
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(13), 3103; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14133103 - 28 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1290
Abstract
Gamma-Flash is an Italian program devoted to the realization of both a ground-based and an airborne gamma-ray and neutron detection system, for in situ measurements of high-energy phenomena correlated to thunderstorm activity, such as Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs), gamma-ray glows, and associated neutron [...] Read more.
Gamma-Flash is an Italian program devoted to the realization of both a ground-based and an airborne gamma-ray and neutron detection system, for in situ measurements of high-energy phenomena correlated to thunderstorm activity, such as Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs), gamma-ray glows, and associated neutron emissions. The ground-based Gamma-Flash experiment is currently under installation at the Osservatorio Climatico “Ottavio Vittori” (CNR-ISAC) on Mt. Cimone, in Northern-Central Italy (2165 m a.s.l.), and it will be operational starting in Summer 2022. We studied the detectability of TGFs in the surroundings of the ground-based Gamma-Flash experiment, to identify an investigable spatial region around the detectors from which typical TGFs can survive and be revealed onground. We carried out numerical simulations of gamma-ray propagation in the mid-latitude atmosphere, and we developed a qualitative analytical model to integrate the results. This analysis allows one to identify a spatial region extending up to 4 km distance on ground and up to 10 km altitude a.s.l., considering typical TGFs emitting ∼1018 gamma-ray photons at the source. Lightning sferics data acquired by the LINET network demonstrate that such a region is interested by frequent cloud-to-ground and intra-cloud lightning, pointing out the suitability of the location for the purposes of the Gamma-Flash program. Full article
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19 pages, 1337 KiB  
Article
Multispectral Optical Diagnostics of Lightning from Space
by Francisco J. Pérez-Invernón, Francisco J. Gordillo-Vázquez, María Passas-Varo, Torsten Neubert, Olivier Chanrion, Victor Reglero and Nikolai Østgaard
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(9), 2057; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14092057 - 25 Apr 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1956
Abstract
We present spectroscopic diagnostic methods that allow us to estimate the gas and the electron temperature in emerged lightning stroke channels (from thunderclouds) observed by the photometers and cameras of the Atmosphere Space Interaction Monitor (ASIM). We identify the species (molecules, atoms and [...] Read more.
We present spectroscopic diagnostic methods that allow us to estimate the gas and the electron temperature in emerged lightning stroke channels (from thunderclouds) observed by the photometers and cameras of the Atmosphere Space Interaction Monitor (ASIM). We identify the species (molecules, atoms and ions) producing light emission in different wavelengths, and how the blue (337 ± 2 nm), red (777.4 ± 2.5 nm) and ultraviolet (180–230 nm) optical emissions captured by ASIM photometers change as a function of the temperature in the lightning stroke channel. We find good agreement between the light curves of the emerged lightning observed by ASIM and the synthetic ones obtained from calculated spectra. Our results suggest that (i) early stage (high temperature > 20,000 K) emerged lightning strokes at high altitude can contribute to the optical signals measured by the PH2 photometer (180–230 nm), (ii) intermediate stage (mid temperatures, 6000–21,000 K) emerged lightning strokes can produce 777.4 nm near-infrared radiation (observable by PH3) exhibiting higher intensity than PH1 observable N2 SPS between ∼6000 K and ∼8000 K, and than ion optical emissions (336.734 nm and 337.714 nm) between ∼16,000 K and ∼21,000 K, (iii) from ∼16,000 K to 35,000 K, neutral oxygen 777.4 nm radiation and ion emissions at 336.734 nm and 337.714 nm can be simultaneoulsy observed but 777.4 nm dominates only between ∼16,000 K and ∼21,000 K, (iv) the availability of detections with a narrow 0.5 nm gap filtered photometer (336.75–337.25 nm), with the same or better sensitivity than PH1 in ASIM-MMIA but with a central wavelength at exactly 337.0 nm (the strongest N2 SPS transition), would give access to the late stage of lightning strokes (emerged or not) when temperatures are between 8000 K and 5000 K (or lower for a photometer with better sensitivity than PH1 in ASIM-MMIA) when the production of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hydroxyl radicals (OH) maximizes. Full article
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16 pages, 6243 KiB  
Article
Pulse Parameters and Peak Currents of Return Strokes Observed by the Ningxia FALMA in the Chinese Inland Areas
by Dongdong Shi, Panliang Gao, Ting Wu, Daohong Wang and Wei Jiang
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(8), 1838; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14081838 - 11 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1544
Abstract
We have studied the pulse parameters and peak currents of 17,225 return stroke (RS) events in the cloud-to-ground lightning flashes observed in Chinese inland areas by a multistation mapping system called Ningxia Fast Antenna Lightning Mapping Array. There are a total of 685 [...] Read more.
We have studied the pulse parameters and peak currents of 17,225 return stroke (RS) events in the cloud-to-ground lightning flashes observed in Chinese inland areas by a multistation mapping system called Ningxia Fast Antenna Lightning Mapping Array. There are a total of 685 positive and 16,540 negative RS events, respectively, producing 8280 and 195,860 pulses at multi stations. It is found that on average, the positive RS pulse appears to have a longer rise time, wider half-peak width, shorter fall time and longer zero-crossing time than the negative RS pulse. The RS peak currents are estimated through time-matching with a modest number of RS from the calibrated lightning location system. The statistical results show that the arithmetic means of positive and negative RS peak currents are 31.5 and 22.8 kA, respectively. Compared to previously reported studies, both the RS pulse parameters and peak currents are significantly different. Particularly, we note that in our dataset, the percentage of positive RSs with peak currents below 10 kA is up to 27%, a significant number which should be taken into account in such types of statistical studies. Additionally, we have further used the data from Gifu, Japan, and Ningxia, China, to verify how distance ranges and observation regions affect the RS characteristics. The results have provided distinct evidence that the distance ranges and observation regions should be at least two of the factors attributing to the statistical disparities among different studies. Full article
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14 pages, 4333 KiB  
Article
Characterizing Pulse Attenuation of Intra-Cloud and Cloud-to-Ground Lightning with E-Field Signal Measured at Multiple Stations
by Wenwei Wang and Baoyou Zhu
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(7), 1672; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14071672 - 30 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1499
Abstract
In this paper, we analyze the waveform data of nearly 200,000 intra-cloud (IC) and cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning discharges detected by the Jianghuai Area Sferic Array on 26–29 August 2019 to investigate the propagation features of lightning electromagnetic fields. Through the analysis of variation [...] Read more.
In this paper, we analyze the waveform data of nearly 200,000 intra-cloud (IC) and cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning discharges detected by the Jianghuai Area Sferic Array on 26–29 August 2019 to investigate the propagation features of lightning electromagnetic fields. Through the analysis of variation in the electric field (E-field) signal of lightning during the actual propagation, it was found that (1) the attenuation of lightning E-field signal with distance can be fairly well described by the power-law relationship E = ar−b, and the attenuation index is b = 1.02 (for IC) and b = 1.13 (for CG); (2) under the situation of the same propagation path, the IC pulses experience less attenuation than CG pulses; and (3) through the comparison with simulations, it can be seen that the attenuation of lightning E-field pulse is affected by the conductivity of the ground surface, and according to the attenuation factor of lightning E-field strength, it can be inferred that the conductivity in the Jianghuai area ranges between 0.005 S/m and 0.01 S/m, which is in good agreement with the measured conductivity in this area. Our results suggest that lightning radiation could provide a feasible means for remotely sensing the ground conductivity. Full article
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20 pages, 2119 KiB  
Article
Characteristics of Regions with High-Density Initiation of Flashes in Mesoscale Convective Systems
by Fei Wang, Yijun Zhang, Xiaohua Deng, Hengyi Liu, Wansheng Dong and Wen Yao
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(5), 1193; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14051193 - 28 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1537
Abstract
To investigate the characteristics of regions exhibiting multiple lightning initiations within a finite volume and a short time, the lightning location data obtained from the convective regions of 14 mesoscale convective systems were analyzed in combination with data from radar. In total, 415 [...] Read more.
To investigate the characteristics of regions exhibiting multiple lightning initiations within a finite volume and a short time, the lightning location data obtained from the convective regions of 14 mesoscale convective systems were analyzed in combination with data from radar. In total, 415 out of 5996 radar grids (1 km × 1 km × 0.5 km) were found to initiate more than one flash within 6 min. Only 49 grids showed an initiation density of more than two flashes within 6 min. The grids with high flash initiation densities were found to have a similar distribution to those with one lightning initiation within 6 min, in terms of altitude and reflectivity relative to altitude. They also showed similar trends in their frequency evolution. The grids with higher initiation densities seemed to be more concentrated in the altitude range of 9–13 km. However, only one was found to form at a lower altitude near the melting level when lightning initiation clearly declined. Moreover, the spatial relationship of this lower higher-initiation density grid to the reflectivity core was different to that in the main altitude range. In this paper, the possible dynamic and electrical mechanisms of the formation of this lower higher-initiation density grid are discussed. Full article
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17 pages, 4980 KiB  
Article
Close Observation of the Evolution Process during Initial Stage of Triggered Lightning Based on Continuous Interferometer
by Zefang Chen, Yang Zhang, Yanfeng Fan, Jingxuan Wang, Weitao Lyu, Dong Zheng and Wenjing Pang
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(4), 863; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14040863 - 11 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1265
Abstract
The discharge signal in the initial stage of lightning is weak. The revelation of the discharge mechanism at this stage depends especially on close observation. In this study, a continuous interferometer (CINTF) was used to observe the initial stage of the upward positive [...] Read more.
The discharge signal in the initial stage of lightning is weak. The revelation of the discharge mechanism at this stage depends especially on close observation. In this study, a continuous interferometer (CINTF) was used to observe the initial stage of the upward positive leader (UPL) of the triggered lightning in Conghua District, Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province. The positioning error of CINTF for a close-range radiation source was analyzed, and the positioning error calibration method of CINTF for a specific close-range radiation source was studied, which improved the observation accuracy of elevation angle at the initial stage of the UPL of the triggered lightning. With the rise of the rocket, the positioning error in altitude during the initial stage of the UPL increased obviously. Under the layout condition of the Guangzhou field experiment site for lightning research, when the positioning results of the elevation angle of the initial stage of the UPL were 40°, 50°, and 60°, respectively, the calibrated altitude positioning error could be reduced by about 11 m, 14 m, and 20 m, respectively. On the basis of the calibrated observation results, the evolution characteristics of the initial stage of the UPL were studied, and its discharge mechanism was revealed. The precursor current pulse (PCP) was generated by a weak upward positive breakdown and a subsequent strong downward negative breakdown near the rising rocket tip, which was in the form of a single pulse. The precursor current pulse cluster (PCP cluster) and initial precursor current pulse cluster (IPCP) were both signs of self-sustaining development of the UPL. After the PCP cluster, self-sustaining development stopped immediately. The self-sustaining development after IPCP could be short-term or continuous. Full article
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19 pages, 7220 KiB  
Article
Remote Measurement of the Lightning Impulse Charge Moment Change Using the Fast Electric Field Antenna
by Wenhao Hou, Jiaying Gu, Yaojun Wang, Bingzhe Dai, Xun Cui, Hongsheng Wang, Xue Jiao, Jie Li and Qilin Zhang
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(3), 724; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14030724 - 3 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1913
Abstract
The impulse charge moment change (iCMC) is an important electrical property of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning. In this paper, a new method of measuring the iCMC at distances of several hundred kilometers is proposed. The method is based on the vertical electric field below [...] Read more.
The impulse charge moment change (iCMC) is an important electrical property of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning. In this paper, a new method of measuring the iCMC at distances of several hundred kilometers is proposed. The method is based on the vertical electric field below 1 kHz measured by the widely used fast electric field antenna with low frequency/very low frequency (LF/VLF) band. The impulse response of Earth-ionosphere waveguide (EIWG) is modeled using a finite difference time domain (FDTD) method considering an anisotropic ionosphere. By comparing the observed waveform with the simulated impulse response, the lightning discharge is classified into the impulsive discharge and the non-impulsive discharge. For the impulsive discharge, its iCMC is obtained directly by comparing the measured ELF waveform to the modeled impulse response at the same distance. For the non-impulsive discharge, its current moment waveform is assumed to be a sum of two Heidler’s functions, and the genetic algorithm is used to search the unknown parameters in the functions. The good agreement between the measured ELF waveform and the simulated waveform implies that the extracted current moments are reasonable. This method can be used to continuously monitor the lightning iCMC in a given time and space. Full article
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19 pages, 4993 KiB  
Article
Experimental Study of Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Nowcasting with Multisource Data Based on a Video Prediction Method
by Shuchang Guo, Jinyan Wang, Ruhui Gan, Zhida Yang and Yi Yang
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(3), 604; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14030604 - 27 Jan 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2275
Abstract
The evolution of lightning generation and extinction is a nonlinear and complex process, and the nowcasting results based on extrapolation and numerical models largely differ from the real situation. In this study, a multiple-input and multiple-output lightning nowcasting model, namely Convolutional Long- and [...] Read more.
The evolution of lightning generation and extinction is a nonlinear and complex process, and the nowcasting results based on extrapolation and numerical models largely differ from the real situation. In this study, a multiple-input and multiple-output lightning nowcasting model, namely Convolutional Long- and Short-Term Memory Lightning Forecast Net (CLSTM-LFN), is constructed to improve the lightning nowcasting results from 0 to 3 h based on video prediction methods in deep learning. The input variables to CLSTM-LFN include historical lightning occurrence frequency and physical variables significantly related to lightning occurrence from numerical model products, which are merged with each other to provide effective information for lightning nowcasting in time and space. The results of batch forecasting tests show that CLSTM-LFN can achieve effective forecasts of 0 to 3 h lightning occurrence areas, and the nowcasting results are better than those of the traditional lightning parameterization scheme and only inputting a single data source. After analyzing the importance of input variables, the results show that the role of numerical model products increases significantly with increasing forecast time, and the relative importance of convective available potential energy is significantly larger than that of other physical variables. Full article
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19 pages, 8225 KiB  
Article
Preliminary Application of Long-Range Lightning Location Network with Equivalent Propagation Velocity in China
by Jie Li, Bingzhe Dai, Jiahao Zhou, Junchao Zhang, Qilin Zhang, Jing Yang, Yao Wang, Jiaying Gu, Wenhao Hou, Bin Zou and Jing Li
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(3), 560; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14030560 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2317
Abstract
The equivalent propagation method adopts a variable propagation velocity in lightning location, minimizing the location error caused by various factors in the long-range lightning location network. To verify the feasibility of this method, we establish a long-range lightning location network in China. A [...] Read more.
The equivalent propagation method adopts a variable propagation velocity in lightning location, minimizing the location error caused by various factors in the long-range lightning location network. To verify the feasibility of this method, we establish a long-range lightning location network in China. A new method is used to extract the ground wave peak points of the lightning sferics and is combined with the equivalent propagation velocity method for lightning location. By comparing with the lightning data detected by the lightning locating system called advanced direction and time-of-arrival detecting (ADTD) that has been widely used for tens of years in China, the feasibility of this method is initially verified. Additionally, it is found that the relative detection efficiency of our long-range lightning location network can reach 53%, the average location error is 9.17 km, and the detection range can reach more than 3000 km. The equivalent propagation method can improve the average location accuracy by ~1.16 km, compared with the assumed light speed of lightning-radiated sferic from the lightning stroke point to the observation station. The 50th percentile of the equal propagation velocity is 0.998c, which may be used in the long-range lightning location networks. Full article
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12 pages, 15117 KiB  
Article
Outbreak of Negative Narrow Bipolar Events in Two Mid-Latitude Thunderstorms Featuring Overshooting Tops
by Feifan Liu, Baoyou Zhu, Gaopeng Lu and Ming Ma
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(24), 5130; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13245130 - 17 Dec 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1991
Abstract
Lightning discharges are the electrical production in thunderclouds. They radiate the bulk of radio signals in the very low-frequency and low-frequency (VLF/LF) that can be detected by ground-based receivers. One kind of special intra-cloud lightning discharges known as narrow bipolar events (NBEs) have [...] Read more.
Lightning discharges are the electrical production in thunderclouds. They radiate the bulk of radio signals in the very low-frequency and low-frequency (VLF/LF) that can be detected by ground-based receivers. One kind of special intra-cloud lightning discharges known as narrow bipolar events (NBEs) have been shown to be rare but closely linked to the convective activity that leads to hazardous weather. However, there is still lack of understanding on the meteorological conditions for thunderstorm-producing NBEs, especially for those of negative polarity, due to their rare occurrence. In this work, we aim to investigate what meteorological and electrical conditions of thunderclouds favor the production of negative NBEs. Combining with the VLF/LF radio signal measured by Jianghuai Area Sferic Array (JASA), S-band Doppler radar observation and balloon sounding data, two mid-latitude thunderstorms with outbreaks of negative NBEs at midnight in East China were analyzed. The comparison with the vertical radar profile shows that the bursts of negative NBEs occurred near thunderclouds with overshooting tops higher than 18 km. Manifestation of negative NBEs is observed with a relatively low spectrum width near thundercloud tops. Our findings suggest that the detection of negative NBEs would provide a unique electrical means to remotely probe overshooting tops with implications for the exchange of troposphere and stratosphere. Full article
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18 pages, 6875 KiB  
Article
A New Approach of 3D Lightning Location Based on Pearson Correlation Combined with Empirical Mode Decomposition
by Yanhui Wang, Yingchang Min, Yali Liu and Guo Zhao
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(19), 3883; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13193883 - 28 Sep 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2058
Abstract
To improve the accuracy of pulse matching and the mapping quality of lightning discharges, the Pearson correlation method combined with empirical mode decomposition (EMD) is introduced for discharge electric field pulse matching. This paper uses the new method to locate the lightning channels [...] Read more.
To improve the accuracy of pulse matching and the mapping quality of lightning discharges, the Pearson correlation method combined with empirical mode decomposition (EMD) is introduced for discharge electric field pulse matching. This paper uses the new method to locate the lightning channels of an intra-cloud (IC) lightning flash and a cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning flash and analyzes the location results for the two lightning flashes. The results show that this method has a good performance in lightning location. Compared with the pulse-peak feature matching method, the positioning results of the new method are significantly improved, which is mainly due to the much larger number of positioning points (matched pulses). The number of located radiation sources has increased by nearly a factor of seven, which can significantly improve the continuity of the lightning channel and clearly distinguish the developmental characteristics. In the CG flash, there were three negative recoil streamers in the positive leader channel. After the three negative recoil streamers were finished, taking approximately 1 ms, 12 ms, and 2 ms, respectively, the negative leader channel underwent a K-process. The three negative recoil streamers are not connected to the K-processes in the negative leader channel. We think that the three negative recoil streamers may have triggered the three K-processes, respectively. Full article
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17 pages, 10584 KiB  
Article
Revisiting Lightning Activity and Parameterization Using Geostationary Satellite Observations
by Xin Zhang, Yan Yin, Julia Kukulies, Yang Li, Xiang Kuang, Chuan He, Jeff L. Lapierre, Dongxin Jiang and Jinghua Chen
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(19), 3866; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13193866 - 27 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2147
Abstract
The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 16 (GOES-16) detects total lightning continuously, with a high spatial resolution and detection efficiency. Coincident data from the GLM and the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) are used to explore the correlation between [...] Read more.
The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 16 (GOES-16) detects total lightning continuously, with a high spatial resolution and detection efficiency. Coincident data from the GLM and the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) are used to explore the correlation between the cloud top properties and flash activity across the continental United States (CONUS) sector from May to September 2020. A large number of collocated infrared (IR) brightness temperature (TBB), cloud top height (CTH) and lightning data provides robust statistics. Overall, the likelihood of lightning occurrence and high flash density is higher if the TBB is colder than 225 K. The higher CTH is observed to be correlated with a larger flash rate, a smaller flash size, stronger updraft, and larger optical energy. Furthermore, the cloud top updraft velocity (w) is estimated based on the decreasing rate of TBB, but it is smaller than the updraft velocity of the convective core. As a result, the relationship between CTH and lightning flash rate is investigated independently of w over the continental, oceanic and coastal regimes in the tropics and mid-latitudes. When the CTH is higher than 12 km, the flash rates of oceanic lightning are 38% smaller than those of both coastal and continental lightning. In addition, it should be noted that more studies are necessary to examine why the oceanic lightning with low clouds (CTH < 8 km) has higher flash rates than lightning over land and coast. Finally, the exponents of derived power relationship between CTH and lightning flash rate are smaller than four, which is underestimated due to the GLM detection efficiency and the difference between IR CTH and 20 dBZ CTH. The results from combining the ABI and GLM products suggest that merging multiple satellite datasets could benefit both lightning activity and parameterization studies, although the parallax corrections should be considered. Full article
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19 pages, 10786 KiB  
Article
Impact of Lightning Data Assimilation on Forecasts of a Leeward Slope Precipitation Event in the Western Margin of the Junggar Basin
by Peng Liu, Yi Yang, Yu Xin and Chenghai Wang
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(18), 3584; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13183584 - 9 Sep 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1874
Abstract
A moderate precipitation event occurring in northern Xinjiang, a region with a continental climate with little rainfall, and in leeward slope areas influenced by topography is important but rarely studied. In this study, the performance of lightning data assimilation is evaluated in the [...] Read more.
A moderate precipitation event occurring in northern Xinjiang, a region with a continental climate with little rainfall, and in leeward slope areas influenced by topography is important but rarely studied. In this study, the performance of lightning data assimilation is evaluated in the short-term forecasting of a moderate precipitation event along the western margin of the Junggar Basin and eastern Jayer Mountain. Pseudo-water vapor observations driven by lightning data are assimilated in both single and cycling analysis experiments of the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) three-dimensional variational (3DVAR) system. Lightning data assimilation yields a larger increment in the relative humidity in the analysis field at the observed lightning locations, and the largest increment is obtained in the cycling analysis experiment. Due to the increase in water vapor content in the analysis field, more suitable thermal and dynamic conditions for moderate precipitation are obtained on the leeward slope, and the ice-phase and raindrop particle contents increase in the forecast field. Lightning data assimilation significantly improves the short-term leeward slope moderate precipitation prediction along the western margin of the Junggar Basin and provides the best forecast skill in cycling analysis experiments. Full article
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21 pages, 8797 KiB  
Article
Fast and Fine Location of Total Lightning from Low Frequency Signals Based on Deep-Learning Encoding Features
by Jingxuan Wang, Yang Zhang, Yadan Tan, Zefang Chen, Dong Zheng, Yijun Zhang and Yanfeng Fan
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(11), 2212; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13112212 - 5 Jun 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2921
Abstract
Lightning location provides an important means for the study of lightning discharge process and thunderstorms activity. The fine positioning capability of total lightning based on low-frequency signals has been improved in many aspects, but most of them are based on post waveform processing, [...] Read more.
Lightning location provides an important means for the study of lightning discharge process and thunderstorms activity. The fine positioning capability of total lightning based on low-frequency signals has been improved in many aspects, but most of them are based on post waveform processing, and the positioning speed is slow. In this study, artificial intelligence technology is introduced for the first time to lightning positioning, based on low-frequency electric-field detection array (LFEDA). A new method based on deep-learning encoding features matching is also proposed, which provides a means for fast and fine location of total lightning. Compared to other LFEDA positioning methods, the new method greatly improves the matching efficiency, up to more than 50%, thereby considerably improving the positioning speed. Moreover, the new algorithm has greater fine-positioning and anti-interference abilities, and maintains high-quality positioning under low signal-to-noise ratio conditions. The positioning efficiency for return strokes of triggered lightning was 99.17%, and the standard deviation of the positioning accuracy in the X and Y directions was approximately 70 m. Full article
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24 pages, 9643 KiB  
Article
Evaluating the Performance of Lightning Data Assimilation from BLNET Observations in a 4DVAR-Based Weather Nowcasting Model for a High-Impact Weather over Beijing
by Xian Xiao, Xiushu Qie, Zhixiong Chen, Jingyu Lu, Lei Ji, Dongfang Wang, Lina Zhang, Mingxuan Chen and Min Chen
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(11), 2084; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13112084 - 26 May 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2575
Abstract
The Beijing Broadband Lightning Network (BLNET) was successfully set up in North China and had yielded a considerable detection capability of total lightning (intracloud and cloud to ground) over the regions with complex underlying (plains, mountains, and oceans). This study set up a [...] Read more.
The Beijing Broadband Lightning Network (BLNET) was successfully set up in North China and had yielded a considerable detection capability of total lightning (intracloud and cloud to ground) over the regions with complex underlying (plains, mountains, and oceans). This study set up a basic framework for the operational application of assimilating total lightning activities from BLNET and assesses the potential benefits in cloud-scale, very short-term forecast (nowcasting) by modulating the vertical velocity using the 4DVar technique. Nowcast statistics aggregated over 11 cycles show that the nowcasting performances with the assimilation of BLNET lightning datasets outperform RAD and the assimilation of GLD360 (Global Lightning) datasets. The assimilation of BLNET data improves the model's dynamical states in the analysis by enhancing the convergence and updraft in and near the convective system. To better implement of assimilating real-time lightning data, this study also conducts sensitivity experiments to investigate the impact of the horizontal length scale of a distance-weighted interpolation, binning time intervals, and different vertical profile or distance weights prior to the DA. The results indicate that the best forecast performance for assimilating BLNET lightning datasets is obtained in a 4DVar cycle when the lightning accumulation interval is 3 min, the radius of horizontal interpolation is 5 × 5, and the statistically vertical velocity profile and the distance weights obtained from cumulus cloud. Full article
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17 pages, 12522 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Fengyun-4A Lightning Mapping Imager (LMI) Performance during Multiple Convective Episodes over Beijing
by Zhixiong Chen, Xiushu Qie, Juanzhen Sun, Xian Xiao, Yuxin Zhang, Dongjie Cao and Jing Yang
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(9), 1746; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13091746 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2006
Abstract
This study investigates the characteristics of space-borne Lightning Mapping Imager (LMI) lightning products and their relationships with cloud properties using ground-based total lightning observations from the Beijing Broadband Lightning Network (BLNET) and cloud information from S-band Doppler radar data. LMI showed generally consistent [...] Read more.
This study investigates the characteristics of space-borne Lightning Mapping Imager (LMI) lightning products and their relationships with cloud properties using ground-based total lightning observations from the Beijing Broadband Lightning Network (BLNET) and cloud information from S-band Doppler radar data. LMI showed generally consistent lightning spatial distributions with those of BLNET, and yielded a considerable lightning detection capability over regions with complex terrain. The ratios between the LMI events, groups and flashes were approximately 9:3:1, and the number of LMI-detected flashes was roughly one order of magnitude smaller than the number of BLNET-detected flashes. However, in different convective episodes, the LMI detection capability was likely to be affected by cloud properties, especially in strongly electrified convective episodes associated with frequent lightning discharging and thick cloud depth. As a result, LMI tended to detect lightning flashes located in weaker and shallower cloud portions associated with fewer cloud shielding effects. With reference to the BLNET total lightning data as the ground truth of observation (both intra-cloud lightning and cloud-to-ground lightning flashes), the LMI event-based detection efficiency (DE) was estimated to reach 28% under rational spatiotemporal matching criteria (1.5 s and 65 km) over Beijing. In terms of LMI flash-based DE, it was much reduced compared with event-based DE. The LMI flash-based ranged between 1.5% and 3.5% with 1.5 s and 35–65 km matching scales. For 330 ms and 35 km, the spatiotemporal matching criteria used to evaluate Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), the LMI flash-based DE was smaller (<1%). Full article
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13 pages, 2768 KiB  
Article
Enhancement of Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Activity Caused by the Urban Effect: A Case Study in the Beijing Metropolitan Area
by Yongping Wang, Gaopeng Lu, Tao Shi, Ming Ma, Baoyou Zhu, Dongxia Liu, Changzhi Peng and Yu Wang
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(7), 1228; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13071228 - 24 Mar 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2241
Abstract
To investigate the possible impact of urban development on lightning activity, an eight-year (2010–2017) cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning dataset provided by the National-Wide Lightning Detection Network in China was analyzed to characterize the CG lightning activity in the metropolitan area of Beijing. There is [...] Read more.
To investigate the possible impact of urban development on lightning activity, an eight-year (2010–2017) cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning dataset provided by the National-Wide Lightning Detection Network in China was analyzed to characterize the CG lightning activity in the metropolitan area of Beijing. There is a high CG flash density area over the downtown of Beijing, but different from previous studies, the downwind area of Beijing is not significantly enhanced. Compared with the upwind area, the CG flash density in the downtown area was enhanced by about 50%. Negative CG flashes mainly occurred in the downtown and industrial area, while positive CG flashes were distributed evenly. The percentage of positive CG flashes with Ipeak ≥ 75 kA is more than six times that of the corresponding negative CG flashes in the Beijing area. The enhancement of lightning activity varies with season and time. About 98% of CG flashes occurred from May to September, and the peak of CG diurnal variation is from 1900 to 2100 local time. Based on the analysis of thunderstorm types in Beijing, it is considered that the abnormal lightning activity is mainly responsible for an enhancement of the discharge number in frontal systems rather than the increase of the number of local thunderstorms. In addition, there is a non-linear relationship between pollutant concentrations and CG flash number, which indicates that there are other critical factors affecting the production of lightning. Full article
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Review

Jump to: Research, Other

21 pages, 3800 KiB  
Review
Advances in Lightning Monitoring and Location Technology Research in China
by Yijun Zhang, Yang Zhang, Mengjin Zou, Jingxuan Wang, Yurui Li, Yadan Tan, Yuwen Feng, Huiyi Zhang and Shunxing Zhu
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(5), 1293; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14051293 - 7 Mar 2022
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3824
Abstract
Monitoring lightning and its location is important for understanding thunderstorm activity and revealing lightning discharge mechanisms. This is often realized based on very low-frequency/low-frequency (VLF/LF) signals, very high-frequency (VHF) signals, and optical radiation signals generated during the lightning discharge process. The development of [...] Read more.
Monitoring lightning and its location is important for understanding thunderstorm activity and revealing lightning discharge mechanisms. This is often realized based on very low-frequency/low-frequency (VLF/LF) signals, very high-frequency (VHF) signals, and optical radiation signals generated during the lightning discharge process. The development of lightning monitoring and location technology worldwide has largely evolved from a single station to multiple stations, from the return strokes (RSs) of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning flashes to total lightning flashes, from total lightning flashes to lightning discharge channels, and from ground-based lightning observations to satellite-based lightning observations, all of which have aided our understanding of atmospheric electricity. Lightning monitoring and positioning technology in China has kept up with international advances. In terms of lightning monitoring based on VLF/LF signals, single-station positioning technology has been developed, and a nationwide CG lightning detection network has been built since the end of the twentieth century. Research on total lightning flash positioning technology began at the beginning of the 21st century, and precision total lightning flash positioning technology has improved significantly over the last 10 years. In terms of positioning technology based on VHF signals, narrowband interferometers and wideband interferometers have been developed, and long-baseline radiation source positioning technology and continuous interferometers have been developed over the last ten years, significantly improving the channel characterization ability of lightning locations. In terms of lightning monitoring based on optical signals, China has for the first time developed lightning mapping imagers loaded by geosynchronous satellites, providing an important means for large-scale and all-weather lightning monitoring. Full article
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Other

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11 pages, 1666 KiB  
Technical Note
Upgrades of the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network in 2021
by Yanan Zhu, Michael Stock, Jeff Lapierre and Elizabeth DiGangi
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(9), 2209; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14092209 - 5 May 2022
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 2743
Abstract
The Earth Networks Total Lightning Network (ENTLN) launched a new processor (P2021) in December 2021. Some major upgrades were made in the new processor, including a new classification algorithm, a new propagation model, and regional data processing architecture. Ground-truth datasets of natural and [...] Read more.
The Earth Networks Total Lightning Network (ENTLN) launched a new processor (P2021) in December 2021. Some major upgrades were made in the new processor, including a new classification algorithm, a new propagation model, and regional data processing architecture. Ground-truth datasets of natural and rocket-triggered lightning acquired in Florida were used to evaluate the performance characteristics of the new processor. Compared to the last processor launched in 2015 (P2015), the stroke classification accuracy increased from 91% to 94% for natural lightning and from 86% to 88% for rocket-triggered lightning. The location accuracy improved significantly with the median location error decreasing from 215 m to 92 m. On a global scale, we found the number of pulses detected by the ENLTN increased in all regions with an overall detection gain of 149%. One can see modest gains in detection in regions with a fairly dense network of sensors and significant gains in regions where sensor density is much lower. Each of the major upgrades as well as their influences on the performance characteristics of the ENLTN are discussed. Full article
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17 pages, 5018 KiB  
Technical Note
3D Lightning Location Method Based on Range Difference Space Projection
by Ling Fan and Changhai Zhou
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(4), 1003; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14041003 - 18 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1462
Abstract
Most lightning location networks obtain the position results by optimizing the goodness of fit to determine that all combinatorial time differences of arrivals (TDOAs) are due to a common discharge. This paper proposes a three-dimensional (3D) lightning location method based on range difference [...] Read more.
Most lightning location networks obtain the position results by optimizing the goodness of fit to determine that all combinatorial time differences of arrivals (TDOAs) are due to a common discharge. This paper proposes a three-dimensional (3D) lightning location method based on range difference (RD) space projection. The proposed method projects all the measurements into the RD space, which has the space-invariant feature of the equivalence cell and can be partitioned soundly. Aiming at the problem of computational cost of the procedure of the projection, the hierarchical strategy is proposed to improve computational efficiency. The performance of the RD space projection based on the hierarchical strategy is analyzed via Monte-Carlo simulations. The results show that the proposed method can locate lightning sources in real time with high accuracy. The results also show that the location accuracy is limited by the level of the inherent time uncertainty, the layout, and the size of the receiver network. Under the fixed layout and size of the receiver network, and the fixed measurement noise uncertainty, the positioning precision cannot be improved more even if the grid step is small enough or the number of receivers is large enough. Full article
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15 pages, 67699 KiB  
Technical Note
A New Hybrid Algorithm to Image Lightning Channels Combining the Time Difference of Arrival Technique and Electromagnetic Time Reversal Technique
by Fengquan Li, Zhuling Sun, Mingyuan Liu, Shanfeng Yuan, Lei Wei, Chunfa Sun, Huimin Lyu, Kexin Zhu and Guoying Tang
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(22), 4658; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13224658 - 18 Nov 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1678
Abstract
Very-high-frequency (VHF) electromagnetic signals have been well used to image lightning channels with high temporal and spatial resolution due to their capability to penetrate clouds. A lightning broadband VHF interferometer with three VHF antennas configured in a scalene-triangle shape has been installed in [...] Read more.
Very-high-frequency (VHF) electromagnetic signals have been well used to image lightning channels with high temporal and spatial resolution due to their capability to penetrate clouds. A lightning broadband VHF interferometer with three VHF antennas configured in a scalene-triangle shape has been installed in Lhasa since 2019, to detect the lightning VHF signals. Using the signals from the VHF interferometer, a new hybrid algorithm, called the TDOA-EMTR technique, combining the time difference of arrival (TDOA) and the electromagnetic time reversal (EMTR) technique is introduced to image the two-dimensional lightning channels. The TDOA technique is firstly applied to calculate the initial solutions for the whole lightning flash. According to the results by the TDOA method, the domain used for the EMTR technique is predetermined, and then the EMTR technique is operated to obtain the final positioning result. Unlike the original EMTR technique, the low-power frequency points for each time window are removed based on the FFT spectrum. Metrics used to filter noise events are adjusted. Detailed imaging results of a negative cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning flash and an intra-cloud (IC) lightning flash by the TDOA method and the TDOA-EMTR are presented. Compared with the original EMTR method, the positioning efficiency can be improved by more than a factor of 3 to 4, depending on the scope of the pre-determined domain. Results show that the new algorithm can obtain much weaker radiation sources and simultaneously occurring sources, compared with the TDOA method. Full article
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14 pages, 3626 KiB  
Technical Note
A Comprehensive Study on the Improved Radio-Frequency Magnetic Field Measurement for the Initial Upward Leader of a Negative Rocket-Triggered Lightning Flash
by Tao Shi, Gaopeng Lu, Yanfeng Fan, Xiao Li and Yang Zhang
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(8), 1533; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13081533 - 15 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2130
Abstract
The spectrum analysis of the lightning current in the experiment campaign of 2019 reveals that the lightning current waveform contains rich medium-frequency (MF) radiation signals in the initial stage. However, there is a lack of resolution for MF signals by using conventional magnetic [...] Read more.
The spectrum analysis of the lightning current in the experiment campaign of 2019 reveals that the lightning current waveform contains rich medium-frequency (MF) radiation signals in the initial stage. However, there is a lack of resolution for MF signals by using conventional magnetic sensors. The bandwidth of radio-frequency magnetic field measurement is improved by extending to 20 kHz–1.2 MHz in the Guangdong Comprehensive Observation Experiment on Lightning Discharge (GCOELD). During the previously noticed “quiet period” that can only maintain the upward propagation with relatively small-scale breakdown, magnetic pulses of quiet period (MPQPs) are discerned more clearly than the previous experiment in GCOELD. Aided by the improvement of a magnetic sensor, this paper captures richer magnetic field signals radiated from the weak discharge of the precursory phage than previous experiments in GCOELD. The analysis shows that both aborted UPLs and UPLs are caused by weak discharge pulses called initial precursor pulses (IPPs), which are very similar to the amplitude of the streamer discharge obtained in the laboratory. In summary, the signals detected by an improved magnetic sensor will provide an important reference for exploring the pulse characteristics of the whole discharge process and formation mechanism of the UPL in the initial stage of triggered lightning. Full article
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