Task Team for Lightning Observations

The implementation plan, The Global Observing System for Climate: Implementation Needs”, GCOS-200, October 2016, of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) introduced lightning as a new Essential Climate Variable. Lightning is a proxy for severe storms and, therefore, relevant for climate monitoring. Measurements of lightning have, in recent years, become more extensive. New satellite instruments have also further enhanced their observation. In October 2017, GCOS and the WMO Commission for Climatology (CCl) established a Task Team on Lightning Observations for Climate Applications. The Task Team met for the first time in February in Washington DC to discuss a work plan, which would address opportunities and challenges of climate applications for lightning observations, observational requirements, metadata standards, and data access and exchange between the public and private sectors.

Since operational monitoring of lightning only began in the late 20th century, long term lightning time series in regard to thunderstorm activities are still limited for climate change monitoring. To fill this information gap, the Task Team started a worldwide initiative to locate thunder day observations, which are a proxy for lighting, in order to supplement the NOAA Global Surface Summary of the Day (GSOD) with thunder day data prior to 1972.The Task Team relies on the input of the respective communities for its recommendations.

As one of the first steps, a survey is planned in order to get more detailed information on existing networks and their data. For this and other efforts, the Task Team encourages the community to provide comments on any of the goals listed above. These comments can be submitted to Valentin Aich vaich@wmo.int. For more information, please visit the GCOS website (gcos.wmo.int) or read the meeting report (1st Meeting of the GCOS/CCl Task Team on Lightning Observations for Climate Applications (TTLOCA-1), GCOS-213) in the WMO Library.


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