Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics

, Volume 122, Issue 3–4, pp 175–184 | Cite as

High-resolution climatology of lightning characteristics within Central Europe

  • Kathrin WaplerEmail author
Original Paper


A 6-year analysis (including data of 36 million strokes) of the spatial and temporal occurrence of lightning strokes in Germany and neighbouring areas is presented. The analysis on a high-resolution grid with spatial resolution of 1 km allows assessing the local risk of lightning and studying local effects, e.g. the influence of orography on the occurrence of thunderstorms. The analysis reveals spatial and temporal patterns: the highest number of lightning strokes occurs in the pre-alpine region of southern Germany, further local maxima exists in low mountain ranges. The lowest number of lightning strokes is present in areas of the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Despite a high year-to-year variability of lightning rates, on average a clear annual cycle (maximum June to August) and diurnal cycle (maximum in the afternoon) are present. In addition to this well-known annual and diurnal pattern, the analysis shows that those are intertwined: the diurnal cycle has an annual cycle, visible in the time of daily maximum which occurs later in the afternoon in summer compared to spring and autumn. Furthermore, the annual cycle of lightning is varying geographically, e.g. offshore and coastal regions show a lower amplitude of the annual cycle and a later maximum (autumn) compared to inland (mountainous) regions. In addition, the annual and diurnal cycles of lightning attributes are analysed. The analysis reveals rising height of inner-cloud lightning during the year with a maximum in late summer.


Diurnal Cycle Lightning Activity Absolute Amplitude Lightning Stroke Severe Weather Event 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was carried out in the Hans-Ertel-Centre for Weather Research. This research network of Universities, Research Institutes and the Deutscher Wetterdienst is funded by the BMVBS (Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development). This study has benefited from the author’s discussions with the scientists of the Atmospheric Dynamics and Predictability Branch, Hans-Ertel-Centre for Weather Research, as well as Tanja Dressel, Marion Gröne and Martin Göber.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atmospheric Dynamics and Predictability Branch, Hans-Ertel-Centre for Weather ResearchDeutscher WetterdienstOffenbachGermany

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