London: About 760 thunderstorms hit the Earth every hour, scientists have calculated.
The figure is substantially lower than numbers that have been used for nearly a century.
The new research uses a global network of monitoring stations that detect the electromagnetic pulses produced by major bolts of lightning.
It confirms that thunderstorms are mainly a tropical phenomenon - and the Congo basin is the global hotspot.
Thunderstorms also track the passage of sunlight across the world, with sunny conditions producing greater convection in the air.
"The monitoring stations might miss some bolts of lightning, but we think we''re getting the big ones - and that''s enough to tell you where the thunderstorms are," the BBC quoted Colin Price, head of the Geophysics and Planetary Sciences department at Tel Aviv University in Israel, as saying.
"And so with this global network we''re able to improve on numbers that have been in standard use since the 1920s,” he added.
The new research uses more than 40 stations around the world geared up to detect electromagnetic pulses produced by strong lightning bolts.
Triangulating from groups of stations enables the World Wide Lightning Location Network to pinpoint flashes.
When they are clustered, a computer algorithm is deployed to assign flashes to their separate parent storms.
Analysing this data for September 2010 produced the average hourly figure of 760.
The research was unveiled at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna.
First Published: Thursday, April 07, 2011, 17:35