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It continually monitors the Western Hemisphere, looking for lightning flashes that indicate when and where a storm is forming, and if it will become more risky.

NASA and the NOAA have revealed the first images from the ground-breaking Geostationary Lightning Mapper.

Scientists showed images from a new space weather tool today that will make tracking and evaluating lightning easier.

This sample animated imagery from the GLM provided by NOAA was taken on February 14, 2017, near the Texas Gulf Coast where severe storms pushed through and spawned tornadoes. As a result, this data gives forecasters more time to warn the public about severe storms.

Lightning strikes throughout the Western Hemisphere during a one-hour period on February 14, 2017.

The GLM is operating aboard the GOES-16 satellite, which observes Earth from roughly 23,000 miles above the surface.

In its first week in orbit, the instrument - the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, or GLM - recorded more lightning data than all previous data captured about the weather event from space combined.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA launched the GOES-16 satellite last November to collect more useful data about global weather patterns to help meteorologists in forecasting.

Unlike traditional time-lapse animations that appear jerky because the images are presented more quickly than they were gathered, this video is a slower version of what the satellite sees, brought down from the satellite's 500 frames per second to a more human 25 frames per second.

The GLM can also show when thunderstorms stall or when they're becoming stronger.

In addition, the instrument will help identify lightning-sparked wildfires in dry areas like the American West, which should lead to faster response times from fire crews. It will also capture lightning information for areas where that data is sparse, including over oceans, NOAA says.

"The new mapper also detects in-cloud lightning, which often occurs five to 10 minutes or more before potentially deadly cloud-to-ground strikes", according to NOAA.

Combining the forces of two GOES-16 instruments, the Advanced Baseline Imager, or ABI, for cloud imaging and the never-before used lightning mapper - forecasters will be able alert people of developing threats.


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