(SPACE DAILY) – Earth has a new lightning capital, according to a recent study using observations from the Lightning Imaging Sensor onboard NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission. Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela earned the top spot receiving an average rate of about 233 flashes per square kilometer per year, according to the study. Researchers had previously identified Africa’s Congo Basin as the location of maximum lightning activity.

The research team constructed a very high resolution data set derived from 16 years of space-based LIS observations to identify and rank lightning hotspots. They described their research in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

“We can now observe lightning flash rate density in very fine detail on a global scale,” said Richard Blakeslee, LIS project scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “Better understanding of lightning activity around the world enables policy makers, government agencies and other stakeholders to make more informed decisions related to weather and climate.”

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