Lightning locating systems: Insights on characteristics and validation techniques

Amitabh Nag, Martin J. Murphy, Wolfgang Schulz, Kenneth L. Cummins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Ground-based and satellite-based lightning locating systems are the most common ways to detect and geolocate lightning. Depending upon the frequency range of operation, LLSs may report a variety of processes and characteristics associated with lightning flashes including channel formation, leader pulses, cloud-to-ground return strokes, M-components, ICC pulses, cloud lightning pulses, location, duration, peak current, peak radiated power and energy, and full spatial extent of channels. Lightning data from different types of LLSs often provide complementary information about thunderstorms. For all the applications of lightning data, it is critical to understand the information that is provided by various lightning locating systems in order to interpret it correctly and make the best use of it. In this study, we summarize the various methods to geolocate lightning, both ground-based and satellite-based, and discuss the characteristics of lightning data available from various sources. The performance characteristics of lightning locating systems are determined by their ability to geolocate lightning events accurately with high detection efficiency and with low false detections and report various features of lightning correctly. Different methods or a combination of methods may be used to validate the performance characteristics of different types of lightning locating systems. We examine these methods and their applicability in validating the performance characteristics of different LLS types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-93
Number of pages29
JournalEarth and Space Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015


  • ground-based lightning detection
  • lightning
  • locating systems
  • performance characteristics
  • satellite-based lightning detection
  • validation techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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