Evaluation of U.S. national lightning detection network performance characteristics using rocket-triggered lightning data acquired in 2004-2009

A. Nag, S. Mallick, V. A. Rakov, J. S. Howard, C. J. Biagi, J. D. Hill, M. A. Uman, D. M. Jordan, K. J. Rambo, J. E. Jerauld, B. A. DeCarlo, K. L. Cummins, J. A. Cramer

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95 Scopus citations


We evaluated performance characteristics of the U.S. National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) using rocket-triggered lightning data acquired in 2004-2009 at Camp Blanding, Florida. A total of 37 negative flashes that contained leader/return stroke sequences (a total of 139) were triggered during these years. For all the return strokes, locations of channel terminations on the ground were known exactly, and for 122 of them currents were measured directly using noninductive shunts. The NLDN recorded 105 Camp Blanding strokes in 34 flashes. The resultant flash and stroke detection efficiencies were 92% and 76%, respectively. The median absolute location error was 308 m. The median NLDN-estimated peak current error was -6.1%, while the median absolute value of current estimation error was 13%. Strokes in "classical" triggered flashes are similar to regular subsequent strokes (following previously formed channels) in natural lightning, and hence the results presented here are applicable only to regular negative subsequent strokes in natural lightning. The flash detection efficiency reported here is expected to be an underestimate of the true value for natural negative lightning flashes, since first strokes typically have larger peak currents than subsequent ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD02123
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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