Comparison and verification of a standalone lightning sensor against observations from the Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Surveillance System II (CGLSS-II) at Kennedy Space Center

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Laro, Katie L.
Thunderstorms can cause major impacts for range activities in the Kennedy Space Center (KSC)/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station region. Lightning from thunderstorms is one of the principal phenomena that cause the most frequent problems for these activities. This study involved verifying and comparing the observations from a prototype lightning sensor produced by the New Hampshire based company, Airmar Technology Corporation, against the Cloud to Ground Lightning Surveillance System II (CGLSS-II), at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Cape Canaveral, Florida is an ideal site for which to perform the verification for two reasons: Florida is the lightning capital of the United States; and, for monitoring purposes, Kennedy Space Center requires a plethora of lightning networks which are publicly available. Various methods were implemented to determine the validity of the Airmar sensor in comparison to the CGLSS-II network including detection efficiency, logistic regressions, false detections, and location biases. This being the first generation of lightning sensor for this company, the data set it provided was limited, subsequently limiting the verification methods. A sample from the results can be seen in the following: the sensor is largely noisy, statistically proven to have higher detection with lightning at closer distances and with higher absolute peak currents, and may have a problem with oversaturation of lightning with high absolute peak currents, a similar affliction seen with the CLGSS-II network. Future generations of this sensor will offer an alternative for NASA and/or numerous other agencies, businesses, organizations, and even individuals to obtain a reliable inexpensive lightning detection capability.