Lake Maracaibo

NASA Crowns Earth's New Lightning Capital

Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela experiences more lightning than any other location on Earth, with an average rate of about 233 flashes per square kilometer per year.

A study using observations from the Lightning Imaging Sensor aboard NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission has found that Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela experiences more lightning than any other location on Earth, with an average rate of about 233 flashes per square kilometer per year. Until now, researchers had identified Africa's Congo Basin as the location of maximum lightning activity, Ryan Connelly, a student intern at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications reported May 2.

His report says the research team built a very high resolution data set from 16 years of space-based observations to rank lightning hotspots and published their results 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 the Marshall 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."

Connelly reported Blakeslee worked with lightning researchers at the University of São Paulo, the University of Maryland, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Dennis Buechler of the University of Alabama in Huntsville said the lake's unique geography and climatology are ideal for the development of thunderstorms. It is located in northwest Venezuela along part of the Andes Mountains and is the largest lake in South America. Storms commonly form there at night as mountain breezes develop and converge over the warm, moist air over the lake. The result is an average of 297 nocturnal thunderstorms per year, with September being the peak month.

Still, the researchers found Africa is the continent with the most lightning hotspots -- six of the world's top 10 sites for lightning activity, with most of them located by Lake Victoria and other lakes along the East African Rift Valley.

Download Center

  • Waste Management in 2021: Accelerate Your Success with Technology

    Join waste management experts on February 23rd for a live best practice session webinar. You’ll learn how to take your waste program to the next level with visual location, barcoding, and mobility. Register now.

  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Reserve your copy of the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get a detailed, fact-based comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • Your Guide to Environmental Metrics that Drive Performance

    Translating sustainability into action starts with implementing the right metrics to assess your environmental risk and performance. Learn how to design metrics that improve your decision-making process and drive enterprise performance.

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

  • Unpacking ESG: 6 Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask

    Environmental and Sustainability experts from Arcadis and Cority answer 6 of the most pressing questions EHS professionals have about getting started with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting.

  • Industry Safe