All it takes is a directional lightning detector, a PC, and an Internet connection. Then you can contribute to a sensor net showing real-time lightning strikes through Blitzortung.org. The focus of this sensor net is Europe. The web site shows maps of the data, or you can download a Google Earth network link showng the strike data which updates every minute. The colors of the dots seen here represent the age of the strikes (white was within 10 minutes, dark red is 60 minutes). Unfortunately, the GE file doesn’t have the legend explaining the colors yet. They have other map formats (a density map for example) which hopefully they will provide in their GE network link as well. Read Blitzortung’s About page for detals (available in German, English or French).
There have been other sensor nets shown in Google Earth. But, lightning data is particularly dynamic. And, this is the first time I’ve seen a real-time sensor net based on homemade equipment. I hope some folks start this up in the US too. I might even set one up myself! via OgleEarth.
Other sensor nets for Google Earth: