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Global Warming Expected to Increase Lightning Occurrence by 50 Percent

Global warming to cause 50% increase in lightning strikes across the U.S.: Study

According to a new study by climate scientists, lightning strikes can be expected to become more frequent if global warming resumes. The increase could be as much as 50 per cent in an extreme scenario where temperatures climb by 4 degrees.

“With warming, thunderstorms become more explosive,” explains David Romps, climatology prof at Berkeley. “This has to do with water vapour, 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.”

The prediction on the future of lightning have been done by Romps and his colleagues by looking into a factor known as CAPE – convective available potential energy- which is measured by the radiosonde balloons routinely released above the USA to monitor weather.

“CAPE is a measure of how potentially explosive the atmosphere is, that is, how buoyant a parcel of air would be if you got it convecting, if you got it to punch through overlying air into the free troposphere,” says Romps. “We hypothesized that the product of precipitation and CAPE would predict lightning … We were blown away by how incredibly well that worked.”

Global warming to cause 50% increase in lightning strikes across the U.S.: Study

Global warming to cause 50% increase in lightning strikes across the U.S.: Study

Using these methods produced the following results:

By the end of the 21sst century, the models predicted an 11 percent increase in CAPE in the U.S. per degree Celsius rise in global average temperatures. The product of CAPE and precipitation gives about a 12 percent rise in cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per degree in the contiguous US, or a roughly 50 percent increase by 2100 if Earth sees the expected 4-degree Celsius increase (7 degrees Fahrenheit) in temperature because the models predict little average precipitation increase nationwide over this period.

With a view to face only a quarter increase in lightning strikes, more people believe that global temperatures should be prevented from increasing any more than 2 degrees Celsius, Others point out that there won’t be much of it this century and lightning strikes will remain at their current levels as actually there has been no warming for the last fifteen years and more.

But, assuming Romps and his colleagues are right and there will be fifty per cent more lightning in the year 2100, what will that mean?

Well, the current chance of a person being struck by lightning in the USA is 1 in 700,000 over a year: that is 0.0000014. Increasing this by fifty per cent brings it up to approximately 0.000002.

Major boffinry mag Science published the study of Romps and his colleagues.

Global warming to cause 50% increase in lightning strikes across the U.S.: Study

 

About Enozia Vakil

Enozia Vakil is an online entrepreneur, writer, editor and an avid reader. She has been associated with some of the best names in both online and print media, and holds a degree in Alternative Medicine.