Accuracy of the lightning mapping array

  • Thomas R
  • Krehbiel P
  • Rison W
 et al. 
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The location accuracy of the New Mexico Tech Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) has been investigated experimentally using sounding balloon measurements, airplane tracks, and observations of distant storms. We have also developed simple geometric models for estimating the location uncertainty of sources both over and outside the network. The model results are found to be a good estimator of the observed errors and also agree with covariance estimates of the location uncertainties obtained from the least squares solution technique. Sources over the network are located with an uncertainty of 6–12 m rms in the horizontal and 20–30 m rms in the vertical. This corresponds well with the uncertainties of the arrival time measurements, determined from the distribution of chi-square values to be 40–50 ns rms. Outside the network the location uncertainties increase with distance. The geometric model shows that the range and altitude errors increase as the range squared, r 2, while the azimuthal error increases linearly with r. For the 13 station, 70 km diameter network deployed during STEPS the range and height errors of distant sources were comparable to each other, while the azimuthal errors were much smaller. The difference in the range and azimuth errors causes distant storms to be elongated radially in plan views of the observations. The overall results are shown to agree well with hyperbolic formulations of time of arrival measurements [e.g., Proctor, 1971]. Two appendices describe (1) the basic operation of the LMA and the detailed manner in which its measurements are processed and (2) the effect of systematic errors on lightning observations. The latter provides an alternative explanation for the systematic height errors found by Boccippio et al. [2001] in distant storm data from the Lightning Detection and Ranging system at Kennedy Space Center.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aircraft sparking
  • Data telemetry
  • Lightning
  • Radio frequency tracking and location
  • Thunderstorms

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  • Ronald J. Thomas

  • Paul R. Krehbiel

  • William Rison

  • Steven J. Hunyady

  • William P. Winn

  • Timothy Hamlin

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