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New Weather Satellite Captures First Images Of Lightning As Seen From Space

First Posted: Mar 09, 2017 04:05 AM EST
First Images From GOES-16 Lightning Mapper
NOAA releases images of lightning data captured by the new weather satellite called Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM).
(Photo : NOAAsatelittes/YouTube screenshot)

A new weather satellite called the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) captured its first images of storms accented with lightning from space. The images, which were taken on Feb. 14, 2017, were just released by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last March 6, 2017.

The images showed bright flashes from a storm that generated tornadoes and hail over the Gulf Coast of Texas, particularly in Houston, on Feb. 14. In the video below, the green cross is Houston. Meanwhile, the green dotted lines are the state's coastline. The mapper breaks down the location, intensity and other characteristics of each lightning strokes, according to CBS News.

According to NASA, a rapid increase in lightning is often a good indicator that a storm is intensifying and could generate devastating weather. The GLM could observe how storms grow and strengthen. In line with this, the weather researchers could improve the severe-weather forecasts and issue flood and flash-flood warning right away.

The GLM, which was launched last November, is the first to monitor lightning from geostationary orbit. It could also view storms over the ocean, which is a danger for aviators and mariners. This could also aid the forecasters and firefighters to detect dry areas that are in danger of lightning-sparked wildfires, according to Space.com.

Jeff Vanden Beukel of Lockheed Martin said that seeing individual lightning strikes from 22,300 miles away is an incredible feat. He further said that the instrument is also monitoring cloud-to-cloud lightning for the first time that happens 5 to 10 minutes or more before potentially deadly cloud-to-ground strikes. He concluded that the GLM will aid forecasters issue accurate weather warnings for people on the ground, at sea and up in the air.

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