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Madeira to Have Thunderstorm Detector

Madeira is to have a Thunderstorm Detector Network comprising of four LS7002 light detectors.  Two sensors will be located in the areas around Porto Moniz and Santana.  One in Porto Santo and the fourth will track thunderstorm activity from the Selvagens Islands. The sensors detect low frequency (LF) electromagnetic signals generated by lightning and will complement the lightning systems already in place at the Funchal Meteorological Observatory and the Meteorological Centres located at both Madeira and Porto Santo airports.

The four detectors will allow for the real-time evaluation of the intensity and polarity of the rays by measuring the electromagnetic radiation emitted. By using triangulation methods, it will be possible to obtain accurate soil bound impact location points. Also, this network of light detectors will allow for climatic changes as well as provide the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) with accurate information, allowing them to assess potential problems and risks.  Information, generated by the lightning detectors allows researchers to track geographic distribution, the evolution of the rays and warn them of adverse weather conditions, associated with the lightning patterns.

These detectors have a radius of approximately 200 km and have a precision accuracy of 95%  within a 100m range.  They will also work in conjunction with the mainlands ‘Climate Forecasting, Alert and Response Systems on the Continent’ network, which is currently undergoing modernisation.

Further updates to the radio sounding system at the Funchal Meteorological Observatory will take place next month, and the system will go live by the end of October this year.

In conjunction with the Porto Santo Radar, the IPMA will have the most modern means of remote thunderstorm observation in Madeira, which will contribute to the immediate monitoring and forecasting of weather.

The cost of the system and updates is €383,687.04 with the European Union providing €287,765.28 leaving €95,921.76 to be paid by the regional government.

Samantha Gannon

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Madeira Weekly