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Response of global lightning activity to air temperature variation

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It is an issue of great attention but yet not very clear whether lightning activities increase or decrease on a warmer world. Reeve et al. presented that lightning activities in global land and the Northern Hemisphere land have positive response to the increase of wet bulb temperature at l000hPa. Is this positive response restricted only to wet bulb temperature or in land? What is the response of global lightning activities (in both land and ocean) to the global surface air temperature variation like? This paper, based on the 5-year or 8-year OTD/LIS satellite-based lightning detecting data and the NCEP reanalysis data, makes a reanalysis of the response of the global and regional lightning activities to temperature variations. The results show that on the interannual time scale the global total flash rate has positive response to the variation in global surface air temperature, with the sensitivity of 17±7% K−1. Also, the seasonal mean flash rate of continents all over the world and that of continents in the Northern Hemisphere have sensitive positive response to increase of global surface air temperature and wet bulb temperature, with the sensitivity of about 13±5% K−1, a bit lower than estimation of 40% K−1 in Reeve et al. However, the Southern Hemisphere and other areas like the tropics show no significant correlation.

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Correspondence to Ming Ma.

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Ma, M., Tao, S., Zhu, B. et al. Response of global lightning activity to air temperature variation. Chin. Sci. Bull. 50, 2640–2644 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03183663

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  • response of lightning activity
  • interannual climate variation