LOFAR lightning imaging: mapping lightning with nanosecond precision

B.M. Hare, O. Scholten, A. Bonardi, S. Buitink, A. Corstanje, U. Ebert, H. Falcke, J.R. Hörandel, H. Leijnse, P. Mitra, K. Mulrey, A. Nelles, J. P. Rachen, L. Rossetto, C. Rutjes, P. Schellart, S. Thoudam, T.N.G. Trinh, S. ter Veen, T. Winchen

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Lightning mapping technology has proven instrumental in understanding lightning. In this work we present a pipeline that can use lightning observed by the LOw-Frequency ARray (LOFAR) radio telescope to construct a 3-D map of the flash. We show that LOFAR has unparalleled precision, on the order of meters, even for lightning flashes that are over 20 km outside the area enclosed by LOFAR antennas (∼3,200 km2), and can potentially locate over 10,000 sources per lightning flash. We also show that LOFAR is the first lightning mapping system that is sensitive to the spatial structure of the electrical current during individual lightning leader steps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2861-2876
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research. D, Atmospheres
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2018


  • leader propagation
  • lightning
  • lightning mapping
  • time of arrival


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