Vaisala’s Global Lightning Dataset GLD360 Begins New Era for Lightning Detection

Thunderstorm Manager
Casey McCullar, Head of Lightning
Casey McCullar
Head of Lightning
Published: Aug 29, 2018
Weather & Environment

Vaisala is proud to introduce the latest major upgrade to the GLD360 global lightning detection network. After months of fine-tuning the algorithm, this version includes three significant improvements: cloud-to-ground classification, better location accuracy, and faster lightning alerts.

When we first created GLD360 back in 2009, the vision was to create a way to detect lightning anywhere in the world. After much hard work from teams across six continents, we were able to make it happen.

This latest release of GLD360 is really a transformation that takes it to the next level. It has always been the world’s best, most accurate, most reliable, global network. Now it’s producing results that are moving closer to precision networks, but at a global scale.

On the alerting side, we have brought the latency down from 55 seconds to 35 seconds. This means that all of our users now will receive notifications about lightning events near their area of interest so they can mobilize their teams sooner to take precautions to ensure that injuries are prevented.

It is amazing to think that sensors over 5,000 kilometers away can pinpoint lightning activity to 1.5 km accuracy, but that’s what we do over five million times every day. This means that fewer alerts are missed for incorrectly located events and less operational downtime happens when lightning is really outside the range of caution. Everything just works better with better accuracy.

But the most impressive new feature is that GLD360 can now distinguish in-cloud lightning from cloud-to-ground lightning. While both are important for warnings, it’s when lightning strikes the ground that people get injured and assets get damaged. Now GLD360 is not only for real-time alerts. This data is now appropriate for after-the-fact forensic analysis.

While GLD360 data is not as accurate as data created by a Vaisala precision network, it brings these groundbreaking capabilities to parts of the world where no local networks are available. This is especially interesting in countries where lightning threatens lives, but local governments haven’t yet invested in regional or national systems.

Yes, these upgrades are impressive, and we are just getting started. We are fortunate to have several top-tier scientists working on this every day, taking meteorological innovations into cutting-edge products. We are always proud to talk about how we have improved the network and how that’s helped our customers around the world. If you want to learn more about how GLD360 can help your organization, just send us a note at [email protected] and we’ll get you started today.

Author: Casey McCullar

Casey McCullar, Head of Lightning

Casey McCullar

Head of Lightning

Casey McCullar has 19 years of experience leading the building, managing, and marketing of geospatial software and data products. Since joining Vaisala in 2017, he has lead the lightning business, creating new solutions to deliver mission-critical lightning data and software solutions to Vaisala’s customers around the world.

Casey holds a BA and MGIS from the University of Texas in Dallas and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business in Dartmouth.  


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