A GPU-Based Grid Traverse Algorithm for Accelerating Lightning Geolocation Process

Zilong Qin, Mingli Chen, Fanchao Lyu, Steven A. Cummer, Baoyou Zhu, Feifan Liu, Yaping Du

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Most lightning location networks are based on real-time analytical solutions of certain simplified models, while the reality is much more complicated. In this paper, we introduce a graphics processing unit (GPU)-based parallel computing algorithm that can extensively benefit lightning geolocation networks. For a network running this GPU-based algorithm, one can build up a geolocation database based on numerical solutions of certain complete models in advance, and lightning geolocations can then be easily determined with a grid-searching technique in real time. One such grid-searching technique, is the grid traverse algorithm (GTA) for the traditional time of arrival technique. By running GPU-based GTA in a six-station two-dimensional (2-D) and a five-station 3-D networks, we show that extremely high network performance can be achieved, with a processing speed of about 2700 times faster than CPU-based GTA. The location accuracy of GPU-GTA is examined with Monte Carlo simulations, showing that GPU-GTA can locate a lightning source in real time with high accuracy. We also find that when the grid step is comparable with the inherent time uncertainty of a network, the location accuracy cannot be improved further with a finer grid step.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8684288
Pages (from-to)489-497
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Graphics processing unit (GPU)-based computing algorithm
  • lightning electromagnetic pulse
  • lightning source location
  • time of arrival (TOA) technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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