Publication Abstracts

Mezuman et al. 2014

Mezuman, K., C. Price, and E. Galanti, 2014: On the spatial and temporal distribution of global thunderstorm cells. Environ. Res. Lett., 9, no. 12, 124023, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/12/124023.

Estimates of global thunderstorm activity have been made predominately by direct measurements of lightning discharges around the globe, either by optical measurements from satellites, or using ground-based radio antennas. In this paper we propose a new methodology in which thunderstorm clusters are constructed based on the lightning strokes detected by the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) in the very low frequency range. We find that even with low lightning detection efficiency on a global scale, the spatial and temporal distribution of global thunderstorm cells is well reproduced. This is validated by comparing the global diurnal variations of the thunderstorm cells, and the currents produced by these storms, with the well-known Carnegie Curve, which represents the mean diurnal variability of the global atmospheric electric circuit, driven by thunderstorm activity. While the Carnegie Curve agrees well with our diurnal thunderstorm cluster variations, there is little agreement between the Carnegie Curve and the diurnal variation in the number of lightning strokes detected by the WWLLN. When multiplying the number of clusters we detect by the mean thunderstorm conduction current for land and ocean thunderstorms (Mach et al 2011 J. Geophys. Res. 116 D05201) we get a total average current of about 760 A. Our results show that thunderstorms alone explain more than 90% in the variability of the global electric circuit. However, while it has been previously shown that 90% of the global lightning occurs over continental landmasses, we show that around 50% of the thunderstorms are over the oceans, and from 00-09UTC there are more thunderstorm cells globally over the oceans than over the continents. Since the detection efficiency of the WWLLN system has increased over time, we estimate that the lower bound of the mean number of global thunderstorm cells in 2012 was around 1050 per hour, varying from around 840 at 03UTC to 1150 storms at 19UTC.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Mezuman, K. and Price, C. and Galanti, E.},
  title={On the spatial and temporal distribution of global thunderstorm cells},
  journal={Environ. Res. Lett.},

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RIS Citation

ID  - me03200x
AU  - Mezuman, K.
AU  - Price, C.
AU  - Galanti, E.
PY  - 2014
TI  - On the spatial and temporal distribution of global thunderstorm cells
JA  - Environ. Res. Lett.
VL  - 9
IS  - 12
SP  - 124023
DO  - 10.1088/1748-9326/9/12/124023
ER  -

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