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nowcoast/sat_meteo_emulated_imagery_lightningstrikedensity_goes_time (MapServer)

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Service Description:
Last Revised: February 2016

Map Information

This nowCOAST™ time-enabled map service provides maps of lightning strike density data from the NOAA/National Weather Service/NCEP's Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) which emulate (simulate) data from the future NOAA GOES-R Global Lightning Mapper (GLM). The purpose of this product is to provide mariners and others with enhanced "awareness of developing and transitory thunderstorm activity, to give users the ability to determine whether a cloud system is producing lightning and if that activity is increasing or decreasing..." Lightning Strike Density, as opposed to display of individual strikes, highlights the location of lightning cores and trends of increasing and decreasing activity. The maps depict the density of lightning strikes during a 15 minute time period at an 8 km x 8 km spatial resolution. The lightning strike density maps cover the geographic area from 25 degrees South to 80 degrees North latitude and from 110 degrees East to 0 degrees West longitude. The map units are number of strikes per square km per minute multiplied by a scaling factor of 10^3. The strike density is color coded using a color scheme which allows the data to be easily seen when overlaid on GOES imagery and to distinguish areas of low and high density values. The maps are updated on nowCOAST™ approximately every 15 minutes. The latest data depicted on the maps are approximately 12 minutes old (or older). Given the spatial resolution and latency of the data, the data should NOT be used to activite your lightning safety plans. Always follow the safety rule: when you first hear thunder or see lightning in your area, activate your emergency plan. If outdoors, immediately seek shelter in a substantial building or a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck or van. Do not resume activities until 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder. For more detailed information about layer update frequency and timing, please reference the nowCOAST™ Dataset Update Schedule.

Background Information

The source for the data is OPC's gridded lightning strike density data on an 8x8 km grid. The gridded data emulate the spatial resolution of the future Global Lightning Mapper (GLM) instrument to be flown on the NOAA GOES-R series of geostationary satellites, with the first satellite scheduled for launch in late 2016.

The gridded data is based on data from Vaisala's ground based U.S. National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) and its global lightning detection network referred to as the Global Lightning Dataset (GLD360). These networks are capable of detecting cloud-to-ground strikes, cloud-to-ground flash information and survey level cloud lightning information. According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, NLDN uses radio frequency detectors in the spectrum 1.0 kHz through 400 kHz to measure energy discharges from lightning as well as approximate distance and direction. According to Vaisala, the GLD360 network is capable of a detection efficiency greater than 70% over most of the Northern Hemisphere with a median location accuracy of 5 km or better. OPC's gridded data are coarser than the original source data from Vaisala's networks. The 15-minute gridded source data are updated at OPC every 15 minutes at 10 minutes past the valid time.

The lightning strike density product from NWS/NCEP/OPC is considered a derived product or Level 5 product ("NOAA-generated products using lightning data as input but not displaying the contractor transmitted/provided lightning data") and is appropriate for public distribution.

Time Information

This map service is time-enabled, meaning that each individual layer contains time-varying data and can be utilized by clients capable of making map requests that include a time component.

In addition to ArcGIS Server REST access, time-enabled OGC WMS 1.3.0 access is also provided by this service.

This particular service can be queried with or without the use of a time component. If the time parameter is specified in a request, the data or imagery most relevant to the provided time value, if any, will be returned. If the time parameter is not specified in a request, the latest data or imagery valid for the present system time will be returned to the client. If the time parameter is not specified and no data or imagery is available for the present time, no data will be returned.

This service is configured with time coverage support, meaning that the service will always return the most relevant available data, if any, to the specified time value. For example, if the service contains data valid today at 12:00 and 12:10 UTC, but a map request specifies a time value of today at 12:07 UTC, the data valid at 12:10 UTC will be returned to the user. This behavior allows more flexibility for users, especially when displaying multiple time-enabled layers together despite slight differences in temporal resolution or update frequency.

When interacting with this time-enabled service, only a single instantaneous time value should be specified in each request. If instead a time range is specified in a request (i.e. separate start time and end time values are given), the data returned may be different than what was intended.

Care must be taken to ensure the time value specified in each request falls within the current time coverage of the service. Because this service is frequently updated as new data becomes available, the user must periodically determine the service's time extent. However, due to software limitations, the time extent of the service and map layers as advertised by ArcGIS Server does not always provide the most up-to-date start and end times of available data. Instead, users have three options for determining the latest time extent of the service:

  1. Issue a returnUpdates=true request (ArcGIS REST protocol only) for an individual layer or for the service itself, which will return the current start and end times of available data, in epoch time format (milliseconds since 00:00 January 1, 1970). To see an example, click on the "Return Updates" link at the bottom of the REST Service page under "Supported Operations". Refer to the ArcGIS REST API Map Service Documentation for more information.
  2. Issue an Identify (ArcGIS REST) or GetFeatureInfo (WMS) request against the proper layer corresponding with the target dataset. For raster data, this would be the "Image Footprints with Time Attributes" layer in the same group as the target "Image" layer being displayed. For vector (point, line, or polygon) data, the target layer can be queried directly. In either case, the attributes returned for the matching raster(s) or vector feature(s) will include the following:
    • validtime: Valid timestamp.
    • starttime: Display start time.
    • endtime: Display end time.
    • reftime: Reference time (sometimes referred to as issuance time, cycle time, or initialization time).
    • projmins: Number of minutes from reference time to valid time.
    • desigreftime: Designated reference time; used as a common reference time for all items when individual reference times do not match.
    • desigprojmins: Number of minutes from designated reference time to valid time.
  3. Query the nowCOAST™ LayerInfo web service, which has been created to provide additional information about each data layer in a service, including a list of all available "time stops" (i.e. "valid times"), individual timestamps, or the valid time of a layer's latest available data (i.e. "Product Time"). For more information about the LayerInfo web service, including examples of various types of requests, refer to the nowCOAST™ LayerInfo Help Documentation


Map Name: NOAA NWS Emulated GOES-R Lightning Strike Density (Time Enabled)


All Layers and Tables

Dynamic Legend

Dynamic All Layers

Layers: Description:


Spatial Reference: 102100  (3857)

Single Fused Map Cache: false

Initial Extent: Full Extent: Time Info: Units: esriMeters


Document Info: Supports Dynamic Layers: true

MaxRecordCount: 1000

MaxImageHeight: 4096

MaxImageWidth: 4096

Supported Query Formats: JSON, AMF, geoJSON

Min Scale: 0

Max Scale: 0

Supports Datum Transformation: true

Child Resources:   Info   Dynamic Layer

Supported Operations:   Export Map   Identify   Find   Return Updates