Environment

Where Lightning Strikes

By Solana PyneMar 1, 2002 6:00 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

If you fear lightning, stay away from central Africa: It is the most-struck place in the world, according to a comprehensive new map of lightning frequency (below). High mountains and moisture-rich air cook up storms that blast the region year-round, says Dennis Boccippio of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. He and his colleagues compiled five years of data from two Earth-observing satellites, whose "glorified digital video cameras" were sensitive enough to spy flashes even during the day. To the researchers' surprise, the worst outbreaks of lightning occur in locations with the largest number of thunderstorms, not necessarily those with the most intense thunderstorms. Next, Boccippio and his collaborators aim to put similar cameras on ordinary weather satellites, with the long-term goal of using lightning data to forecast severe weather.

Lightning strikes per square kilometer per year

Photograph courtesy of NSSTC Lightning Team/NASA

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.