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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 04 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 04 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Concurrent Satellite and ground-based Lightning Observations from the Optical Lightning Imaging Sensor (ISS-LIS), the LF network Meteorage and the SAETTA LMA in the northwestern Mediterranean region

Felix Erdmann1,2, Eric Defer1, Olivier Caumont2, Richard J. Blakeslee3, Stéphane Pédeboy4, and Sylvain Coquillat1 Felix Erdmann et al.
  • 1Laboratoire d’Aérologie, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, UPS, Toulouse, France
  • 2CNRM, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, Toulouse, France
  • 3NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center/NSSTC, Huntsville, AL, USA
  • 4Météorage, Pau, France

Abstract. The new space-based Lightning Imager (LI) on board the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) geostationary satellite will improve the observation of lightning over Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Africa and the Atlantic Ocean from 2021 onwards. In preparation of the use of the upcoming MTG-LI data, we compare observations by the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) on the International Space Station (ISS), which applies an optical technique similar to MTG-LI, to concurrent records of the Low Frequency (LF) ground-based network Meteorage. Data were analyzed over the northwestern Mediterranean Sea from March 01, 2017 to March 20, 2018. Flashes are detected by ISS-LIS using illuminated pixels, also called events, within a given (2.0 ms) frame and during successive frames. Meteorage describes flashes as a suite of Intra-Cloud/cloud-to-cloud (IC) pulses and/or Cloud-to-Ground (CG) strokes. Both events and pulses/strokes are grouped to flashes using a novel in-house algorithm.

In our study, ISS-LIS detects about 57 % of the flashes detected by Meteorage. The flash detection efficiency (DE) of Meteorage relative to ISS-LIS exceeds 80 %. Coincident matched flashes detected by the two instruments show a good spatial and temporal agreement. Both peak and mean distance between matches are smaller than the ISS-LIS pixel resolution (about 5.0 km). The timing offset for matched ISS-LIS and Meteorage flashes is usually shorter than the ISS-LIS integration time frame (2.0 ms). The closest events and pulses/strokes of matched flashes achieve sub-millisecond offsets. Further analysis of flash characteristics reveals that longer lasting and more spatially extended flashes are more likely detected by both ISS-LIS and Meteorage than shorter duration and smaller extent flashes. ISS-LIS' relative DE is lower for daytime versus nighttime as well as for CG versus IC flashes.

A second ground-based network, the Very High Frequency (VHF) SAETTA Lightning Mapping Array (LMA), further enhances and validates the lightning pairing between ISS-LIS and Meteorage. It also provides altitude information of the lightning discharges and adds a detailed lightning mapping to the comparison for verification and better understanding of the processes. Both ISS-LIS and Meteorage flash detections feature a high degree of correlation with the SAETTA observations (without altitude information). In addition, Meteorage flashes with ISS-LIS match tend to be associated with discharges that occur at significantly higher altitudes than unmatched flashes. Hence, ISS-LIS flash detection suffers degradation with low-level flashes resulting in lower DE.

Felix Erdmann et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Felix Erdmann et al.
Felix Erdmann et al.
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Short summary
This article compares lightning observations from an optical sensor on board the International Space Station to two ground-based networks using different radio-frequencies. The location and timing of coincident flashes agrees well for the three instruments. Differences exist for the detected number of flashes and the characteristics. Especially small flashes are not always detected by all three instruments. About half of the flashes at altitudes below 10 km are not seen by the satellite sensor.
This article compares lightning observations from an optical sensor on board the International...