Instead, two new satellites will be responsible for making lightning jump data freely available to meteorologists across the United States.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite "R" series (GOES-R), the next set of NOAA satellites scheduled to launch in 2015, will have the first geostationary lightning mappers on board. Rather than using radio waves, GOES-R will use optical detectors, which will measure the differences in brightness on clouds to identify lightning jumps.
The optical detectors will not be as precise as the DC LMA and will not able to create 3-D images of lightning strikes. But they will be able to map the inter-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning occurrences.
"You are still going to be able to locate the lightning in the same way, so I don't think it will make too big of a difference for forecasting operations," said Dustin Shea, a research assistant with the University of Maryland's Cooperative Institute of Climate and Satellites, who assists with the DC LMA.
As soon as GOES-R goes into orbit, Rudlosky hopes to have developed an automated system to catch lightning jumps as they happen, making it easier for meteorologists to issue faster, more accurate severe weather warnings.
"The idea is, in the GOES-R era ... a forecaster will have this capability as soon as that satellite data starts flowing," he said.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500