Efforts are on to have a lightning detector on a geostationary satellite to improve predictions on lightning and the ISRO has in-principle agreed to it, a top official of the Ministry of Earth Sciences said on Tuesday.
Addressing a webinar organised by National Institute of Disaster Management, M Rajeevan, Ministry of Earth Sciences Secretary, also expressed the need to have a large network of lightning detectors in cities that witness thunderstorms.
“We want a lightning detector in a geo-stationary satellite for bettering our predictions on lightning,” he said.
He said that since lightning is a very dynamic phenomenon, a detector on a geo-stationary satellite which can remain in one position is very important.
“We have spoken to the Indian Space Research Organisation and they have in-principle agreed to have a lightning detector on a geo-stationary satellite. Probably, we will get it soon,” Rajeevan added.
The ‘GOES’ satellite network, a joint effort of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Meteosat, operated by European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, has lightning detection devices.
For better prediction of lightning, the institutes under the MoES are also planning to use artificial intelligence and collaborate with academic institutions, Rajeevan said.
India Meteorological Department (IMD) director general Mrutunjay Mohapatra said in the Indian context, the Met department has come up with a strategy to trace all components of a thunderstorm like lightning, squall, winds, rainfall associated with it.
He added that India is one of the few countries that provides early warning for lightning, but communicating to the last mile is a challenge.
The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune has established a network of 93 lightning detectors across the country.
More than 2,000 people die every year due to lighting alone in the country. In the last week of June and early July, more than 160 people died due in lightning strikes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Besides Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and the northeast are known to be lightning prone areas.
Rajeevan also referred to the Oklahoma Lightning Mapping Array (OKLMA), operated jointly National Severe Storms Laboratory and the University of Oklahoma, to map the time and location of lightning channel segments within clouds in three dimensions with high resolution.
He said a similar network needs to be established in India, preferably in the northeast, for better understanding of lightning. Rajeevan added that the Odisha government has also offered to give land for building such an institute.