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Lightening Detection System

Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services

In 2019 Malawi Government with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was able through its M-CLIMES project, which involved scaling up the use of modernized climate information and early warning systems – to acquire and install a lightning detection system.

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The Lightning Network System consists of eight lightning detection sensors installed across the country and is equipped with antennas highly sensitive to the electromagnetic waves emitted by lightning strikes. All sensors work hand-in-hand, providing wide coverage for thunderstorm monitoring in the country.

The LINET lighting detection system has contributed to the department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) in many ways so far. Among the most important benefits is the reliable tracking of weather systems affecting Malawi, as a localized thunderstorm can easily be monitored and tracked in development and progression. The nowcasting tool assists in providing information for forecasting directions of thunderstorms and warnings for areas hit by severe weather. The high sensitivity of the system also enables us to monitor weather systems outside the country that may have an impact on Malawi weather. Thanks to the real-time operation of the system, we can maximize use of the alert functionalities of LINET for live-saving early lightning warnings.

We will also make use of historical lighting data, to identify areas with a high density of lightning strikes. Geospatial querying of lighting data has already assisted in research and review of specific areas of interest where issues of lightning and thunderstorm impacts occurred. The lightning detection system is also used as a feedback mechanism to monitor how weather forecasts relate to what is actually happening on the ground. LINET’s capacity to provide area-specific alerts has proved very appropriate for Malawi.

Lightning detection matters not just for sophisticated weather analysis, but also for acute life-saving warnings and decision making. The key to an advanced system is precision, reliability and stability, enabling it to also work in areas with weaker infrastructure and extreme conditions such as high temperatures and strong winds