We describe the clustering algorithm used by the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) and the Optical Transient Detector (OTD) for combining the lightning pulse data into events, groups, flashes, and areas. Events are single pixels that exceed the LIS/OTD background level during a single frame (2 ms). Groups are clusters of events that occur within the same frame and in adjacent pixels. Flashes are clusters of groups that occur within 330 ms and either 5.5 km (for LIS) or 16.5 km (for OTD) of each other. Areas are clusters of flashes that occur within 16.5 km of each other. Many investigators are utilizing the LIS/OTD flash data; therefore, we test how variations in the algorithms for the event group and group-flash clustering affect the flash count for a subset of the LIS data. We divided the subset into areas with low (1-3), medium (4-15), high (16-63), and very high (64+) flashes to see how changes in the clustering parameters affect the flash rates in these different sizes of areas. We found that as long as the cluster parameters are within about a factor of two of the current values, the flash counts do not change by more than about 20%. Therefore, the flash clustering algorithm used by the LIS and OTD sensors create flash rates that are relatively insensitive to reasonable variations in the clustering algorithms.
Meteorology and Climatology