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Climate Change Impact on Lightning

July 13, 2012; 2:02 PM

New research determining the impact of climate change on the world's lightning and thunderstorm patterns has found that for every one degree Celsius of long-term warming there will be a near 10 percent increase in lightning activity.

The study was led by Professor Colin Price, who is the head of the Department of Geophysics, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

The researchers ran state-of-the-art computer climate models and studied real-life examples of climate change to reach their findings.

Infrared satellite image of a severe thunderstorm complex.

To test the lightning activity findings, Prof. Price compared their results with vastly differing real-world climates, such as dry Africa and the wet Amazon, and regions where climate change occurs naturally, such as Indonesia and Southeast Asia, where El Nino causes the air to become warmer and drier, according to the American Friends of Tel Aviv University article.

Key excerpt from the article......

"During El Nino years, which occur in the Pacific Ocean or Basin, Southeast Asia gets warmer and drier. There are fewer thunderstorms, but we found fifty percent more lightning activity," says Prof. Price. Typically, he says,we would expect drier conditions to produce less lightning. However, researchers also found that while there were fewer thunderstorms, the ones that did occur were more intense.

Professor Price also noted that the increase in lightning would also lead to a higher number of wildfires.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Climate Change
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