Height of Lightning Flashes Matter

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 2:00 PM
Room C105 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Stan Heckman, Earth Networks, Germantown, MD; and C. Sloop

Accurately measuring the heights of lightning flashes is important because lightning activity extends throughout the cloud, and the increase in the height of pulses in a rapidly growing cell provides information on how quickly the top is ascending. Since inception, the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network (ENTLN) has been measuring the heights of every lightning pulse it locates. Recently more work has been commissioned to analyze and improve the height data. If timing errors were normally distributed, the more (inverse variance weighted) sensors included in the solution would show an increase in accuracy. However, further study shows that timing errors are far from normally distributed as they present with a fat-tail distribution. When large errors happen more frequently than in normal distributions, rejecting outliers becomes far more important than increasing the number of sensors. Results show that a locator utilizing fewer sensors while rejecting more outliers -- produces more accurate height measurements.