The Alaska Fire Service is converting to a new lightning detection system. Lightning detection is used to target aerial surveillance of areas where strikes are likely to spark wildfires. The new system which has been tested against the technology it’s replacing has proven to be more accurate and have increased range. Alaska Fire service I,T. section chief John Palmer says it employs sensors around the state to identify individual lightning strikes.
Palmer’s been involved in lightning detection since the first system came on line in the 1980s. He says it doesn’t have to be that accurate for aircraft to spot wildfires, but adds that the new system is also easier and cheaper to manage. He says the old technology required purchase of dedicated communications lines between each sensor site and AFS headquarters in Fairbanks, while the new one, which officially takes over July10, is internet based.