Lightning expected to increase by 50 percent with global warming

Nov 14, 2014

Credit: © Sondem / Fotolia

By Science Daily

Today’s climate models predict a 50 percent increase in lightning strikes across the United States during this century as a result of warming temperatures associated with climate change.

Reporting in the Nov. 14 issue of the journal Science, University of California, Berkeley, climate scientist David Romps and his colleagues look at predictions of precipitation and cloud buoyancy in 11 different climate models and conclude that their combined effect will generate more frequent electrical discharges to the ground.

“With warming, thunderstorms become more explosive,” said Romps, an assistant professor of earth and planetary science and a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “This has to do with water vapor, which is the fuel for explosive deep convection in the atmosphere. Warming causes there to be more water vapor in the atmosphere, and if you have more fuel lying around, when you get ignition, it can go big time.”

More lightning strikes mean more human injuries; estimates of people struck each year range from the hundreds to nearly a thousand, with scores of deaths. But another significant impact of increased lightning strikes would be more wildfires, since half of all fires — and often the hardest to fight — are ignited by lightning, Romps said. More lightning also would likely generate more nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, which exert a strong control on atmospheric chemistry.

While some studies have shown changes in lightning associated with seasonal or year-to-year variations in temperature, there have been no reliable analyses to indicate what the future may hold. Romps and graduate student Jacob Seeley hypothesized that two atmospheric properties — precipitation and cloud buoyancy — together might be a predictor of lightning, and looked at observations during 2011 to see if there was a correlation.


 

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8 comments on “Lightning expected to increase by 50 percent with global warming

  • @OP – Today’s climate models predict a 50 percent increase in lightning strikes across the United States during this century as a result of warming temperatures associated with climate change.

    Not really surprising when climate heating is powering up storms and the water content of the atmosphere in those storms.

    The Earth already looks like a firework show from space!

    Lightning seen from space shuttle Discovery during night time orbit of Earth
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6RxE-f2iyQ

    http://l-zone.info/2014/07/catching-a-bolt-from-beyond-the-blue/



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  • This should be exciting for our US citizens in the Midwest where lighting is most prevalent. They have been denying climate change. This should proof from God (dog) that they have been wrong. Or not………………



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  • I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for 25 years now, and we don’t get many thunderstorms in the rain forest due to the marine influence. I can count the number of times I’ve seen lightning here on both hands. However, most of those times have occurred within the last few years. We even had an F1 tornado south of Seattle this summer. Very strange! Our dramatic weather usually consists of high winds or the rare snowfall.

    I was witness to a dramatic lightning show in Arizona this early autumn during their monsoon season. In the evening of a perfectly clear, sunny day the clouds rolled in, the wind started to blow, and lightning began to flash like strobe lights going off, multiple times per second, all around the horizon. Soon a violent hailstorm ensued, followed by torrential rains and flash flooding, during which the lightning remained constant. It went on the entire night – blue, red, and purple flashes followed by earsplitting thunder. Combined with the dramatic red rock canyon scenery near Sedona, it was an unforgettable experience!



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  • alf1200 Nov 15, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    This should be exciting for our US citizens in the Midwest where lighting is most prevalent. They have been denying climate change.

    We live near the top of a hill on a plateau surrounded by peaks which are one or two hundred feet higher. They are frequently hit by lightning strikes.

    You can tell how near the lightning is by counting the seconds between the flash and the bang!

    http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/distance.htm

    If it goes – – -flash – One, two, CRASH-RUMBLE! it’s a good time to keep your head down, and stay away from any tall trees or pylons.



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  • “Today’s climate models predict a 50 percent increase in lightning strikes across the United States ”

    of course god could increase lightning strikes by 50% if he wanted, and he might just go ahead now scientists have made this prediction, in fact I might interpret a bit of bibble to say that’s what he planned all along and would make scientists predict it so who you gonna believe now?

    teachthecontroversy



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