Worldwide Lightning Detection, Advanced Severe Weather Prediction and Alerting
The Earth Networks Total Lightning NetworkTM (ENTLN) incorporates patent-pending systems and methods for the detection of lightning activity to provide unmatched global in-cloud and cloud-to-ground detection. It is the first in-cloud (IC) lightning and cloud-to-ground (CG) detection network deployed on a global basis capable of detecting long range in-cloud lightning at high efficiencies critical for the advanced prediction of severe weather phenomena such as:
- Heavy rainfall/monsoons
- Downburst winds/wind shear
- Cloud-to-Ground lightning strikes
These potentially deadly weather events often occur within 5 to 30 minutes of in-cloud flash initiation. The ENTLN has demonstrated the ability to significantly improve severe weather warning times over radar and other technologies by incorporating highly advanced predictive capabilities that are crucial for characterizing severe storm precursors, improving severe storm warning lead times, and comprehensive weather management planning. ENTLN data is extremely valuable for meteorological and government agencies, aviation, utilities, sports and recreation, and for mobile alerting.
The Largest Lightning Sensor Network
ENTLN currently encompasses nearly 700 wideband high-frequency lightning sensors covering the entire U.S (including Alaska and Hawaii), Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. ENTLN has expanded to include sensor placements in strategic locations in more than 40 countries around the world including key areas throughout North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia. With these additional locations, ENTLN commands the dense sensor deployment needed to achieve high efficiency capture of total lightning activity. ENTLN data is currently being used by a variety of government agencies and commercial customers.
ENTLN: Unique Lightning Detection Characteristics
Detection of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning is critical in protecting people and property. However, CG lightning actually accounts for only a small percentage of the total lightning discharges that occur in the atmosphere. In-cloud (IC) lightning flashes, on the other hand, account for the vast majority of lightning activity. High detection efficiency of IC for discharges combined with advanced analytics and display capabilities allows for improved lead times for identification of storm cell growth and development to improve early storm warning capability. ENTLN has the demonstrated ability to significantly improve severe weather warning times over radar and other technologies with lead times of up to 30 minutes.
Two distinguishing characteristics of ENTLN that separate it from other lightning offerings are its unique sensor technology and patent pending systems for the detection of lightning activity. Earth Network Lightning Sensors (ENLS) have an industry-leading broad frequency range extending from 1 Hz to 12 MHz that detects both in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning vs. competing lightning sensors operating in North America which are constrained to frequencies of up to just a few hundred kilohertz thus limiting in-cloud detection.
The ENLS employs time-of-arrival detection methodology along with GPS technology and sophisticated algorithms on the entire waveform for every stroke to accurately locate and classify lightning types (IC/CG). The high frequency range of the ENLS also increases timing accuracy for superior location accuracy and global detection efficiency. Differentiating cloud-to-ground from in-cloud lightning is extremely important in assessing storm development and the potential for severe weather.
Earth Networks is the leader in environmental network deployment and has leveraged its existing infrastructure to implement a dense network of high frequency sensors that employ modern microprocessor technology. The ENLS is a compact, fully automated sensor with no moving parts and is easily interfaced with modular connectors. This enables easy installation with no site survey required, better reliability, a smaller operational footprint, and low maintenance.
Total Lightning Detection and Severe Weather Alerting
The network's capability to detect both in-cloud and cloud-to-ground flash signals at high efficiencies makes it practical to track and predict severe weather in real-time. By using the total lightning data and a real-time lightning cell tracking system, the Earth Networks Dangerous Thunderstorm Alert (DTA) system has been developed. A DTA is issued when the ENTLN detects a high frequency of lightning, which indicates the increased potential for:
- Cloud-to-ground lightning strikes
- Heavy rain
- High winds
- Downburst winds
- Tornadic activity
The Dangerous Thunderstorm Alert appears as a purple alert area polygon accompanied by an associated text alert. The DTA can be used to enhance weather monitoring systems operated by national meteorological associations, or may be utilized in areas where meteorological tools such as radar are unavailable -- serving as a vital missing link that can help save lives and protect property.
Earth Networks provides total lightning data via standard application program interfaces (APIs), desktop visualization tools such as StreamerRT, and Google Earth.