Environmental and industrial measurement specialist Vaisala has developed the capability to distinguish cloud-to-ground lightning strokes that contain continuing current, the most damaging of lighting strokes.
The first-of-its-kind technology offers precision in identifying such strokes, which can last a thousand times longer than a typical lighting stroke and may be more likely to cause fire or other extreme heat-related damage.
Brooke Pearson, global solutions manager for lightning, Vaisala, said, “For the first time, industries where charge transfer from lightning is a threat, including electric utilities, oil and gas industries, wind farms, and land management organizations, can identify and target the small percentage of lightning strokes most likely to cause asset damage or start fires.”
Vaisala's suite of lightning detection technologies detect both cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. They include the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) in the USA, which detects cloud-to-ground lightning strokes with a location accuracy of less than 150m (492ft), and the GLD360 global lightning network, which has the ability to detect lightning anywhere in the world.
While continuing current strokes account for just less than 10% of cloud-to-ground lighting strokes, the sheer number of storms with lightning makes even this small percentage significant. While thunderstorms vary widely in size and intensity, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports there are roughly 100,000 thunderstorms in the USA alone each year, and the NLDN records about 70 million cloud-to-ground lightning strokes in the USA annually. That averages approximately 50 continuing current strokes per storm and as many as seven million per year.
“Whether it's one, 50, or 100 continuing current strokes, managing the damage costs time, money and resources to fix,” said Casey McCullar, head of lightning solutions business for Vaisala. “Knowing precise location information for the most damaging strokes will allow investigation and repair personnel to focus on the areas with the highest likelihood of damage first, making the process much more efficient.”
Air quality solutions
Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has contracted Vaisala to deploy a meteorological and air quality sensor network at 20 primary schools across Sydney.
The air quality and weather station data will be utilized by Vaisala’s cloud-based data acquisition platform Beacon Cloud and will be used in classroom activities developed by researchers and science communicators from the University of New South Wales.
Dr Melissa Hart from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s Schools Weather Air Quality (SWAQ) project, said, “We aim to collect high-quality data for urban climate and air quality research as well as engage school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“The data collected will allow, for the first time, detailed spatial analyses and modelling of the impacts of urbanization on Sydney's weather, climate and air quality.”
John Liljelund, head of air quality, Vaisala, said, “In addition to being used in the class room, the project data will be available for the public to monitor conditions in real-time at the schools and on the SWAQ website, as well as to the government and the international scientific community. It is easy and simple to connect Vaisala's sensors to the Beacon Cloud platform offering great tools for school children and people in general to collect local air quality data, use it for studies, and study the data in real time." - December 2018