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Martin J. Murphy, John A. Cramer, and Ryan K. Said

Abstract

The U.S. National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) underwent a complete sensor upgrade in 2013 followed by a central processor upgrade in 2015. These upgrades produced about a factor-of-5 improvement in the detection efficiency of cloud lightning flashes and about one additional cloud pulse geolocated per flash. However, they also reaggravated a historical problem with the tendency to misclassify a population of low-current positive discharges as cloud-to-ground strokes when, in fact, most are probably cloud pulses. Furthermore, less than 0.1% of events were poorly geolocated because the contributing sensor data were either improperly associated or simply underutilized by the geolocation algorithm. To address these issues, Vaisala developed additional improvements to the central processing system, which became operational on 7 November 2018. This paper describes updates to the NLDN between 2013 and 2018 and then focuses on the effects of classification algorithm changes and a simple means to normalize classification across upgrades.

Open access