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In this study, urbanization induced surface warming has been found to trigger some prominent changes in the upper troposphere lower stratosphere regions thereby leading to stronger and more abundant lightning extremes over the Indian region at present. Consequently, the implementation of this hypothesis on global climate models reveal that lightning frequency and intensity values across India are expected to increase alarmingly by 10–25 % and 15–50 %, by 2100 at the current urbanization rate.
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-1280
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-1280

  12 Jan 2021

12 Jan 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Lightning occurrences and intensity over the Indian region: Long-term trends and future projections

Rohit Chakraborty1, Arindam Chakraborty1,2, Ghouse Basha3, and Madineni Venkat Ratnam3 Rohit Chakraborty et al.
  • 1Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science, India
  • 2Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies, Indian Institute of Science, India
  • 3National Atmospheric Research Laboratory, India

Abstract. Lightning activities constitute the major destructive component of thunderstorms over India. Hence, understanding the long-term variabilities of lightning occurrence and intensity and their inter-relation with various causative factors is required. Long-term (1998–2014) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite-based lightning observations depict the most abundant lightning occurrences along the Himalayan foothills, the Indo-Gangetic plains and coastal regions, while the intensity of these lightning strikes are found to be strongest along the coastal regions and Bay of Bengal. In addition, both the lightning properties show a very strong intensification (~1–2.5 % annually) across all Indian regions during 1998–2014 with the maximum trends along the coasts. Accordingly, a detailed statistical dominance analysis is performed which reveals total column water vapor (TCWV) to be the dominant factor behind the intensification in lightning events, while instability, measured by the convective available potential energy (CAPE), and aerosols optical depth (AOD) jointly control the lightning frequency trends. An increase in surface temperatures has led to enhanced instability hence stronger moisture transport to the upper troposphere lower stratosphere regions especially in the along the coasts. This transported moisture helps deplete the ozone concentration leading to reduced temperatures and elevated equilibrium levels which finally results in stronger and more abundant lightning events as also evidenced from the trend analysis. Consequently, the relationship between lightning and its causative factors have been expressed in form of multi-linear regression equations which are then employed on multiple global circulation models (GCM) to understand the long-term impact of urbanization on lightning over a period of 1950–2100. The analysis reveals a uniform increase in lightning occurrences, and intensity from both urbanization scenarios; however, an accelerated growth is observed in the RCP8.5 projections after the year 2050 as also observed from the surface warming trends. As a result, lightning frequency and intensity values across the Indian region are expected to increase alarmingly by ~10–25 % and 15–50 %, respectively, by the end of this century with highest risks along the coasts and hence it requires immediate attention from policy makers.

Rohit Chakraborty et al.

Status: open (until 09 Mar 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Rohit Chakraborty et al.

Rohit Chakraborty et al.

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Short summary
In this study, urbanization induced surface warming has been found to trigger some prominent changes in the upper troposphere lower stratosphere regions thereby leading to stronger and more abundant lightning extremes over the Indian region at present. Consequently, the implementation of this hypothesis on global climate models reveal that lightning frequency and intensity values across India are expected to increase alarmingly by 10–25 % and 15–50 %, by 2100 at the current urbanization rate.
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