Relationships between lightning and properties of convective cloud clusters

Futyan, J. M., and A. Del Genio (2007), Relationships between lightning and properties of convective cloud clusters, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L15705, doi:10.1029/2007GL030227.

Satellite observations of convective system properties and lightning flash rate are used to investigate the ability of potential lightning parameterizations to capture both the dominant land-ocean contrast in lightning occurrence and regional differences between Africa, the Amazon and the islands of the maritime continent. As found in previous studies, the radar storm height is tightly correlated with the lightning flash rate. A roughly second order power-law fit to the mean radar echo top height above the 0°C isotherm is shown to capture both regional and land-ocean contrasts in lightning occurrence and flash rate using a single set of parameters. Recent developments should soon make it possible to implement a parameterization of this kind in global models. Parameterizations based on cloud top height, convective rain rate and convective rain fraction all require the use of separate fits over land and ocean and fail to capture observed differences between continental regions.

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Atmospheric Dynamics and Precipitation Program (ADP)