Environmental Reporting, Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand
Lightning is the discharge of electricity from thunderstorms and can occur within a cloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. By international standards, lightning does not occur frequently around New Zealand. However, ground strikes can injure or kill people and livestock, damage property and infrastructure, and, although rarely in New Zealand, spark forest fires. Thunderstorms are often associated with other severe weather events, such as strong wind gusts and hail. Thunderstorms may increase in frequency and intensity with climate change. More information on this dataset and how it relates to our environmental reporting indicators and topics can be found in the attached data quality pdf.
Source: MetService courtesy of Transpower New Zealand Limited
Method: Lightning is the discharge of electricity from thunderstorms that equalises areas of positive and negative charge, for example, between a storm cloud and the ground. Thunderstorms form as a result of rapidly rising air with high moisture content (humidity). The New Zealand Lightning Detection Network (NZLDN) owned by Transpower and operated by MetService records the number of lightning ground strikes. Sensors around the country detect lightning over the New Zealand land mass and a short distance out to sea (approximately 500km). These sensors detect the electrical discharge, location, and other parameters, such as current strength. The NZLDN records both cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground strikes. Generally, the location of cloud-to-ground strikes can be determined to within approximately 1 km.