New images of lightning from space could help make your next flight less turbulent
The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) is the first lightning detector of its kind and will help National Weather Service forecasters better predict powerful storms.
GLM tracks lightning flashes over the Western Hemisphere to alert researchers as to when a storm is forming or intensifying. The faster lightning occurs, the more likely it is to become dangerous.
The data being returned to earth has never before been available to forecasters and should help researchers prepare the public for severe weather events.
GLM will also help provide more comfort and safety for people travelling on planes or attending outdoor sporting events.
NOAA says the tool, unlike land-based radar, can accurately track thunderstorms over oceans, which will help in the navigation of planes and ships.
GLM also better detects in-cloud lightning, which can be seen up to 10 minutes before potentially deadly cloud-to-ground strikes occur. This awareness could be used to alert organizers of outdoor events to a developing threat.
Combined with other radar and satellite data, GLM could better predict when storms are stalling – aiding in flash flood warnings being issued sooner.
The tool could also provide more accurate predictions on which arid areas of the country could be more prone to brush fires due to lightning strikes.
-With files from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.