The Earth sees about 760 thunderstorms every hour, scientists have calculated.
The figure, unveiled at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, 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," said Colin Price, head of the Geophysics and Planetary Sciences department at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
"And so with this global network, we're able to improve on numbers that have been in standard use since the 1920s."