AI tech predicts time and place of lightning-strikes
Given how deadly and destructive lightning can be, it would certainly be good to know in advance where and when it was going to strike. A new artificial intelligence-based system could help, utilizing nothing but standard weather-station data.
Developed by a team from the Electromagnetic Compatibility Laboratory at Switzerland's EPFL research institute, the system was "trained" using a database of readings of four basic weather parameters: atmospheric pressure, air temperature, relative humidity and wind speed.
Gathered over a 10-year period from 12 Swiss weather stations in urban and mountainous regions, these readings were cross-referenced with recordings from lightning detection and location systems. This allowed the AI algorithms to learn which weather conditions were associated with lightning strikes in given areas.
The resulting computer system is claimed to be almost 80-percent accurate at predicting where and when lighting will strike to the nearest 10 to 30 minutes, within a 30-km (19-mi) radius. As the technology is developed further, those numbers should improve.
"Current systems are slow and very complex, and they require expensive external data acquired by radar or satellite," says PhD student Amirhossein Mostajabi, who initially came up with the idea. "Our method uses data that can be obtained from any weather station. That means we can cover remote regions that are out of radar and satellite range and where communication networks are unavailable."
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science.