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LIGHTNING IN THE

PENISULAR MALAYSIA
by

Mazly Mohamed
KLIA Meteorological Office
Malaysian Meteorological Department
ABSTRACT

Based on Lightning Detection


Systems that were upgraded in
May 2009, a research has been
conducted to study lightning activities in the
Peninsular Malaysia starting May 2009 until
June 2010. Lightning Detection System (LDS)
consists of eight sensors. Data from these
sensors will be taken and analyzed, and it can
be concluded that the lightning activity
depends on the climate change in Malaysia.
The characteristic features of the
climate of Malaysia are uniform
temperature, high humidity and copious rainfall
and also the weather in Malaysia is characterized
by two monsoon regimes, namely, the Southwest
Monsoon from late May to September and the
Northeast Monsoon from November to March.

The Northeast Monsoon brings heavy rainfall,


particularly to the east coast states of Peninsular
Malaysia and western Sarawak, whereas the
Southwest Monsoon normally signifies relatively
drier weather. The transition period in between the
monsoons is known as the inter monsoon period.
PART I

LIGHTNING DETECTION
&
LIGHTNING
BASICS
What is a Lightning
Detection System
detects lightning

is not a lightning protection system

a lightning protection system


provides a designated path for
lightning current to travel harmlessly
to the ground
Main Methods of
Lightning Detection

Magnetic directional finding

Time of arrival

Interferometry
Other Methods of
Lightning Detection
Flash Counter

Lightning Mapping Satellite (using Optical Transient


Detector and Lightning Imaging Sensor)

Lightning Detection and Ranging


(LDAR) by NASA

Arrival-Time-Difference by the
UK Meteorological Office
Types of Lightning
Cloud-to-ground

Intra-cloud

Inter-cloud

Cloud-to-sky
(sprites)
PART II

AN OVERVIEW OF THE
LIGHTNING DETECTION
SYSTEM OF THE MMD
Lightning Detection
System of the MMD
Consist of two sub-systems:

(a) Wide Area Lightning


Localization sub-system
(SAFIR)

(b) Precision Lightning


Warning sub-system
(PLWS)
Wide Area Lightning
Localization System
consists of:

(a) 8 interferometry sensors

(b) 2 Central Processor

(c) 2 Main User Terminals


Safir 3000 Detection
Station
Data from the Detection
Stations
(a) lightning data every second

(b) detection station status


every second

(c) auto-test data every 5


minutes
The Precision Lightning
Warning System
consists of:

(a) 3 Electrostatic Field Mills

(b) 2 Precision Lightning


Warning Console

(c) 7 Remote Alarm Displays


Weaknesses of the
Lightning Detection
System
8 sensors are just sufficient to
cover the whole of Peninsular

unsuitability of certain sites that


are noisy and has obstructions

uneven spacing of sensors


Improving the lightning
detection system

replacement with newer and


more efficient sensors

relocation of some of the sensors


to better sites

Increasing the number of sensors


Methodology

Lightning Detection System


of the Malaysian Meteorological
Department (MMD) consist of two sub-
systems. These sub-systems are Wide
Area Lightning Localization sub-system
(SAFIR) and Precision Lightning
Warning sub-system (PLWS). Data from
the Detection Stations report lightning
data every second, detection station
status every second and also auto-test
data every 5 minutes. The data is used
in this research to determine the
lightning in Peninsular Malaysia.
Figure 1
Figure 1 : The Lightning Detection System
(LDS) of the Malaysian Meteorological
Department (MMD) has eight sensors,
located at:

1. Bt. Tangga, Kedah;


2. Bertam, Penang;
3. Parit, Perak;
4. Kuala Krai, Kelantan;
5. Jengka, Pahang;
6. Klang, Selangor;
7. Jasin, Melaka and
8. Mersing, Johor.
Accuracy of the Lightning Detection
System (LDS) of the MMD

The accuracy of a lightning detection system


depends on a number of factors, among them the
types and number of sensors installed, the
location of the sensor in relation to each other,
sites topography, surrounding obstructions,
structures and environment.

Three LDS sensors are the minimum requirement


for it to compute data. Therefore, the sensors
should not be placed apart more than its nominal
range (200km for Very High Frequency (VHF)
sensors) and it would be bad strategy to place
them all in a straight line.
Preferably, the detection stations
should be located about 100km inland
for wider coverage of land area.
A redundant number of sensors are
recommended as it is not possible to ensure that
all the sensors are functional at all times due to
communication line interruption, hardware
failure, or power outage. Careful selection of site
is also necessary. Noisy sites should be avoided.

VHF sensors are susceptible to vehicles


interference and other transmissions while Low
Frequency (LF) sensors (Computer Generated
(CG) detection) are sensitive to mains voltages
and high tension lines.
Most of the MMD lighting sensors
are in rural areas mostly at sites
provided by Malaysian Agricultural Research
and Development Institute (MARDI) and not in
towns or airports.

Almost all of the meteorological stations


cannot fulfill the conditions as they are mostly
in areas with high traffics volume, high tension
cables and step-down transformer nearby or
within the range of beacons or other
communication transmissions.
Bear in mind the above factors,
just how accurate is the
localization accuracy of the MMD
lightning Detection System?
Case Study 1 Lightning at Parit Lightning Detection
Station
Case Study 2 Lightning at Parit Lightning Detection
Station
Case Study 3 Death due to lightning at Tumpat, Kelantan
on 3 June 2009
Case Study 4 Ten anglers injured by K. Terengganu
lightning strike
Case Study 5 Heavy Rain and Flash Floods at Old Klang
Road, Kuala Lumpur on the Afternoon of 6 April 2006
Case Study 6 Thunderstorm, Heary Rain and Flash Flood
in Several Areas of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor on the
Afternoon of 18 May 2010
In general, information
gathered by the lightning
detection system can confirm the
occurrence of lightning at a particular
place and time with sufficient accuracy.
Lightning imageries also coincides
closely with that of the weather satellite
and weather radars. Lightning
information certainly helps and can be
used reliably in weather now casting
and climatologically studies.
Lightning Density
June 2009 May 2010

Stroke density by the LDS of MMD


July 2009 June 2010

Worldwide lightning
strike by satellite base
optical sensors.
Unit: flashes/km2/yr
PART III

LIGHTNING DISTRIBUTION
IN
PENINSULAR MALAYSIA
Lightning and the
Malaysian Climate

lightning in the Peninsular coincide


with the weather pattern of the
Malaysian climate
CG over the Peninsular
Month CG+ CG- Total (CG) CG+/CG

most lightning occur Jun-09 97295 303129 400424 0.24

during the inter-monsoon Jul-09

Aug-09
73965

89527
227632

299955
301597

389482
0.25

0.23

months with the least Sep-09 79125 245585 324710 0.24

Oct-09 148822 468439 617261 0.24


lightning are December, Nov-09 40588 168470 209058 0.19

January & February Dec-09 37397 121838 159235 0.23

corresponding to the NE Jan-10

Feb-10
41243

43215
135500

119326
176743

162541
0.23

0.27
Monsoon Mar-10 76290 209291 285581 0.27

Apr-10 120942 388787 509729 0.24


CG+ makes up 23% of CG May-10 93846 328776 422622 0.22

Jun-10 76866 255445 332311 0.23

Jul-10 72206 247423 319629 0.23

Aug-10 56630 193599 250229 0.23


CG from Jun 2009 - M ay 2011
Sep-10 53866 215529 269395 0.20
700000
Oct-10 69654 246451 316105 0.22
600000
Nov-10 43179 191249 234428 0.18
500000
Dec-10 27168 93303 120471 0.23
N u m b er

400000

300000 Jan-11 27337 84978 112315 0.24


200000
Feb-11 24230 76170 100400 0.24
100000
Mar-11 52703 167166 219869 0.24
0
Jun-09 Aug-09 Oct-09 Dec-09 Feb-10 Apr-10 Jun-10 Aug-10 Oct-10 Dec-10 Feb-11 Apr-11 Apr-11 53842 199957 253799 0.21
M onth May-11 141226 456508 597734 0.24

Total: 147247 1232177 1379424 0.23


IC & CG Lightning
Lightning Count

% of Intra-cloud Date Day


IC

Night Total Day


CG

Night Total

to total lightning 15/6/09

16/7/09
677

6
296

201
973

207
205

1
39

5
244

= 90% 15/8/09

15/9/09
44869

8417
5104

698
49973

9115
5571

1536
366

65
5937

1601

(417966/417966 15/10/09

15/11/09
23368

6716
8585

7629
31953

14345
2901

646
1411

500
4312

1146

+ 46672) 15/12/09

15/1/10
5382

1
20989

33
26371

34
418

0
1056

1
1474

15/2/10 6 2 8 2 7 9

15/3/10 2297 255 2552 425 52 477

15/4/10 14038 347 14385 1215 52 1267

15/5/10 3270 1426 4696 632 355 987

15/6/10 6215 75 6290 1180 11 1191

Total of Lightning Count on the 15th of e ve ry 15/7/10 13904 1184 15088 2670 371 3041
Month from June 2009 to May 2009 15/8/10 11330 3128 14458 1891 257 2148

15/9/10 17529 199 17728 1902 9 1911

15/10/10 17 111 128 0 2 2


350000
15/11/10 25965 245 26210 2637 78 2715
300000
15/12/10 5328 2991 8319 413 51 464
250000
15/1/11 2086 886 2972 461 129 590
200000
Strokes
15/2/11 25584 8517 34101 1965 363 2328
150000

100000
15/3/11 14950 3784 18734 1189 531 1720

50000 15/4/11 39528 18766 58294 1993 919 2912

0 15/5/11 57048 3984 61032 9509 680 10189

Total 328531 89435 417966 39362 7310 46672


IC Day IC Night CG Day CG Night
Lightning Day & Night
Day

Date Land_EC Sea_EC Land_WC Sea_WC

IC CG IC CG IC CG IC CG

15/06/2009 214 26 99 59 618 94 1228 222 Lightning is more frequent


16/07/2009

15/08/2009 3183
1

741
1 0

397 350
1

16538
1

3158
0 0

195 17
0
over land during the day
15/09/2009 1428 1278 43 7 5680 825 6263 1622

15/10/2009 4291 946 18 3 10122 1612 4498 540 Lightning is less frequent
15/11/2009 131 41 0 2 6855 693 704 56

15/12/2009 1457 107 0 0 12976 1930 286 22


over the sea during the day
15/01/2010 0 0 0 0 3 0 412 55

15/02/2010 0 0 0 0 22 1 1 2

15/03/2010 0 2 0 1 4640 664 350 15

15/04/2010 46 4 178 103 15325 1312 2654 314

15/05/2010 68 127 65 19 754 30 19 0

15/06/2010 350 300 81 47 2442 304 1497 209

15/07/2010 975 479 26 65 3582 445 3691 815

15/08/2010 541 93 4 2 7819 1183 249 11

15/09/2010 2267 240 135 2 6613 804 990 62 Land_EC Land_WC


15/10/2010 6 1 0 0 9 0 2 0

15/11/2010 254 147 385 500 31483 2978 10460 788

15/12/2010 2514 386 1 0 4534 358 449 50

15/01/2011 0 1 0 0 2627 448 1283 336

15/02/2011 357 122 17 17 17730 1515 2239 92

15/03/2011 249 28 2 1 15115 1334 1233 21

15/04/2011 20 38 0 0 25944 1880 241 67

15/05/2011 1899 671 142 221 40473 7199 1805 467

Total 20251 5779 1593 1400 231905 28767 40749 5783 Sea_EC Sea_WC
Lightning Day & Night
Night

Date Land_EC Sea_EC Land_WC Sea_WC

IC CG IC CG IC CG IC CG

15/06/2009 0 8 100 132 1282 91 3434 729

16/07/2009 0 1 0 1 244 1 1032 33

15/08/2009 2 4 0 1 6950 425 40660 6957

15/09/2009 9 1 0 3 1885 93 9437 2007

15/10/2009 2621 722 4091 1848 5466 202 16479 2347

15/11/2009

15/12/2009
0

0
1

1
0

0
0

1
371

7738 747
3 4346

3654
965

337
Lightning is more frequent
15/01/2010 0 1 0 0 59 1 952 188 over the sea during the
15/02/2010 1 0 0 0 2 3 576 201
night
15/03/2010 0 3 0 0 1145 35 12216 1776

15/04/2010 8 4 10 3 1040 64 6806 496

15/05/2010 40 23 38 54 84 4 1 2 Lightning is less frequent


15/06/2010 35 14 192 114 342 6 3674 243

15/07/2010 1329 737 909 975 1620 55 21122 3836


over land during the night
15/08/2010 15 0 1 1 1335 59 1412 309

15/09/2010 2 1 3 2 232 5 419 33

15/10/2010 2 2 2462 757 9 1 438 59

15/11/2010 0 5 1 1 734 57 15065 2045

15/12/2010 9 3 3 1 4977 56 59096 3030

15/01/2011 14 2 0 0 787 124 6470 1986

15/02/2011 2 2 0 1 9510 436 2830 547

15/03/2011 0 5 3 2 4809 566 35152 5357

15/04/2011 1 2 0 1 18991 870 23470 2303

15/05/2011 591 49 13 16 848 202 7519 2224

Total 4681 1591 7826 3914 70460 4106 276260 38010


Average Strokes per Flash
in the Peninsular
From queries made to the database,
the number of flashes and strokes
from 1.5.09 00:00:00 to 30.4.11
23:59:59 are 4479448 and 7104347
respectively.

The average strokes per flash is


7104347/4479448
= 1.59
Current Distribution
May 2009 September 2009 October 2009

November 2009 March 2010 April 2010


Current Distribution
May 2010 September 2010 October 2010

November 2010 March 2011 April 2010


Current Distribution
May 2009 April 2011
lightning is mostly in the range of
-5kA to -25kA
There are more lightning during the SW
Monsoon (May Sep) than during the NE
Monsoon (Nov Mar)
Although less during the NE Monsoon, they
are stronger, mostly in the 15kA - 25kA
range compared to that during the SW
Monsoon
The Inter Monsoon period (April & October)
is characterized by frequent and strong
lightning
Keraunic Level
Thunderstorm day/year
World lightning map

Keraunic level by the LDS of MMD


Year 2010
Lightning Density
July 2009 June 2010

Stroke density by the LDS of MMD


Year 2010

Worldwide lightning
strike by satellite base
optical sensors.
Unit: flashes/km2/yr
Lightning Density
June 2009 May 2010

Jun 2009 Jul 2009 Aug 2009 Sep 2009

Oct 2009 Nov 2009 Dec 2009 Jan 2010

Feb 2010 Mar 2010 Apr 2010 May 2010


Lightning Density
June 2009 May 2010

Jun 2010 Jul 2010 Aug 2010 Sep 2010

Oct 2010 Nov 2010 Dec 2010 Jan 2011

Feb 2011 Mar 2011 Apr 2011 May 2011


Lightning Density Map

Klang valley has the most


lightning in the Peninsular
more lightning occurs on land along
the mountain ranges due to the
influence of sea breeze
higher lightning activities from April
to October in the Strait of Malacca
(Sumatras)
fewer lightning activities in the east
coast during the NE-monsoon
more lightning activities in the east
coast during the SW-monsoon
The End
&
Thank You