Building an Advanced Lightning Sensor Network in Brazil
Brazil frequently experiences very intense thunderstorms, with lightning strikes concentrated in densely populated southern areas, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
The resulting floods can trigger lethal, unstopped mudslides. In January 2011, flooding and mudslides killed more than 900 and left thousands throughout the state homeless. One year later, in January 2012, flooding claimed more than 250 lives.
Timely weather alerts are crucial in preventing future tragedies from unfolding. The prevalence of lightning – which is often a precursor to severe weather events – and the need to better track and alert to major storms led to the deployment of the most advanced lightning detection networks in the world: BrasilDAT (Sistema Brasileiro de Detecção de Descargas Atmosféricas), the Brazilian Lightning Detection Network.
The BrasilDAT Total Lightning Network
Weather Station equipped with a lightning sensor deployed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The lightning sensor is the long “arm” attached to the weather station. The circular container houses a temperature sensor and other instruments. The anemometer atop the station measures wind speed and direction.
Map of lightning sensor deployments as part of the BrazilDAT total lightning network throughout Brazil. Additional sensors are planned for future deployment to further expand coverage.
View of severe weather cells over Rio de Janeiro on March 5, 2013 as depicted by PulseRad™ — a patented, proxy radar computer-based tool developed by Earth Networks.
Yellow icons depict in-cloud lighting strikes over Rio de Janeiro. The areas within the purple polygons are under alert for severe weather. These alerts are generated automatically when in-cloud lightning exceeds a high threshold.
Weather Station equipped with a lightning sensor deployed in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The lightning sensor is the long “arm” attached to the weather station. The circular container houses a temperature sensor and other instruments. The anemometer atop the station measures wind speed and direction.
(Click on the each of the images above to learn more.)
Since 2010, Earth Networks has been engaged in a public-private partnership with Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), the National Institute for Space Research, in Brazil. With partner Simtech, Earth Networks and INPE have deployed a dense network of total lightning sensors throughout Brazil — the Brazilian Total Lightning Network (BrasilDAT).
Earth Networks has been working with Dr. Osmar Pinto, Jr., Coordinator of INPE’s Atmospheric Electricity Group (ELAT), to significantly expand the BrasilDAT network throughout the country with additional sensors for detecting both cloud-to-ground and in-cloud lightning, known as total lightning. The vast majority of lightning is in-cloud, and high rates of it often precede extreme weather – making it a vital part of the severe weather monitoring and alerting process by enabling early warnings.
At present, the BrasilDAT network covers over one-third of Brazil. Coverage provided by the network will continue to increase with the deployment of additional weather and lightning sensors.
The World is Coming to Brazil!
FIFA World Cup: The world will be watching multiple cities across Brazil as it plays host to 32 international teams for the 20th FIFA World Cup, June 12 thru July 13, 2014.
2016 Summer Olympics:
In 2016, thousands of top athletes and spectators will arrive in Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Olympic Games.
Our early warning system will no doubt be put to use in ensuring the safety of athletes and fans as they enjoy world-class sporting events in Brazil!