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B. A Satellite Provides New Insights Into Lightning

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory are studying lightning to gain a better insight into severe storm systems. Unlike previous optic measurements from the ground, Lab physicist Matt Kirkland says they've been studying over 200 individual lightning flashes from a radio receiver aboard the FORTE satellite.

Kirkland: With a satellite you can get better coverage - global and continental scale because you're passing over large pieces of real estate very quickly but also very often.

Narrator: One goal is to equate lightning frequencies with certain types of storm activity.

Kirkland: For example, severe hail, tornadoes, etc. and you can use that - you can provide that tool to the National Weather Service and they could use that as sort of an early warning diagnostic. That hasn't been achieved - although people have been trying for many years.

Narrator: The FORTE satellite was launched in 1997 and makes several passes per day over lightning-prone tropical regions, including South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.