The future of lightning detection is finally here! The GOES-R satellite was launched in November 2016 and became GOES-16 bringing with it a new generation of satellite technology for our nation.  One of its many instruments that will revolutionize forecast and real-time storm monitoring operations is the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). The GLM will provide satellite-based lightning detection across the United States! We will be able to see lightning information simultaneous across the country!

The first images from the GOES-16 GLM were released on Monday, March 6, 2017. The animation below shows severe thunderstorms in East Texas on February 14, 2017. I honestly could watch this loop all day long!


Lightning observed by the GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) illuminates the storms developing over southeast Texas on the morning of February 14, 2017, in this animation of GLM lightning events overlaid on Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) cloud imagery. Frequent lightning is occurring with the convective cells embedded in this severe weather system. The green cross indicates the location of Houston, and green dotted lines indicate the Texas coastline. This animation, rendered at 25 frames per second, simulates what your eye might see from above the clouds. GLM perceives the scene at 500 frames per second, and can distinguish the location, intensity and horizontal propagation of individual strokes within each lightning flash. Monitoring the flash rate from convective cells and their extent can help forecasters improve tornado and severe weather forecasts and warnings and their impending threat to the public. At the time of this animation, the storm cell in the center of the frame was reported by the NWS to have spawned one of a number of tornadoes and damaging winds spawned by the storm complex. -NOAA/NASA

I previously worked with the scientists that designed and developed GLM. These images are the realization of over 30 years of work! Some of my previous research is now being adapted and applied to GLM data in order to better track storms. Not only will meteorologists be able to see where lightning is occurring but we will also be able to determine the flash rate and intensity of the thunderstorms. This will allow for calculations of the Lightning Jump Algorithm, an algorithm I worked with while at the University. The Lightning Jump can aid forecasters in providing advanced warning of severe weather allowing for more advanced lead times to take necessary precautions for businesses and the public. 

Our WxIntegrations team is excited for future applications using GOES-16 data. The live data stream will be released later this year as the instrument is still in testing and check out phase to make sure everything is set for full-time operations. We look forward to leveraging the data to assist you in your operations and decision making.

For more information on the GLM, you can visit NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.

Read our previous blog posts about GLM:
GOES-R Launch
WxIntegrations CTO Elise Schultz’s previous research on Storm Tracking using GOES-R Proxy Data


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