During November 2018 to April 2019, an 11-station Very High Frequency (VHF) lightning mapping array (LMA) was deployed to Córdoba province, Argentina. The purpose of the LMA was validation of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), but the deployment was coordinated with two field campaigns. The LMA observed 2.9 million flashes (≥ 5 sources) during 163 days, and Level 1 (VHF locations), Level 2 (flashes classified), and Level 3 (gridded products) datasets have been made public. The network’s performance allows scientifically useful analysis within 100 km when at least 7 stations were active. Careful analysis beyond 100 km is also possible.
The LMA dataset includes many examples of intense storms with extremely high flash rates (> 1 s-1), electrical discharges in overshooting tops (OTs), as well as anomalously charged thunderstorms with low-altitude lightning. The modal flash altitude was 10 km, but many flashes occurred at very high altitude (15-20 km). There were also anomalous and stratiform flashes near 5-7 km altitude. Most flashes were small (< 50 km2 area).
Comparisons with GLM on 14 and 20 December 2018 indicated that GLM most successfully detected larger flashes (e.g., > 100 VHF sources), with detection efficiency (DE) up to 90%. However, GLM DE was reduced for flashes that were smaller, or that occurred lower in the cloud (e.g., near 6-km altitude). GLM DE also was reduced during a period of OT electrical discharges. Overall, GLM DE was a strong function of thunderstorm evolution and the dominant characteristics of the lightning it produced.