Lightning occurrences and intensity over the Indian region: long-term trends and future projections

Chakraborty, Rohit; Chakraborty, Arindam; Basha, Ghouse; Ratnam, Madineni Venkat

Lightning activity constitute the major destructive component of thunderstorms over India. Hence, an understanding of the long-term variability in lightning occurrence and intensity and their interrelation with various causative factors is required. Long-term (1998–2014) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite-based lightning observations depict the most frequent lightning occurrences along the Himalayan foothills, the Indo-Gangetic plains and coastal regions, while the intensity of these lightning strikes is found to be strongest along the coastal regions and in the Bay of Bengal. In addition, both of the abovementioned lightning properties show a very strong intensification (inline-formula∼ 1 %–2.5 % annually) across all Indian regions during the 1998–2014 period with the maximum trends along the coasts. Accordingly, a detailed statistical dominance analysis is performed which reveals total column water vapor (TCWV) to be the dominant factor behind the intensification in lightning events, while instability, measured by the convective available potential energy (CAPE), and aerosol optical depth (AOD) jointly control the lightning frequency trends. An increase in surface temperatures has led to enhanced instability and, hence, stronger moisture transport to the upper-troposphere and lower-stratosphere regions, especially along the coasts. This transported moisture helps deplete the ozone concentration, leading to reduced temperatures and elevated equilibrium levels, which finally results in stronger and more frequent lightning events, as also evidenced by the trend analysis. Consequently, the relationships between lightning and its causative factors have been expressed in the form of multilinear regression equations, which are then employed in multiple global circulation models (GCMs) to understand the long-term impact of urbanization on lightning over the period from 1950 to 2100. The analysis reveals a uniform increase in lightning occurrence and intensity using both urbanization scenarios; however, accelerated growth is observed in the RCP8.5 projections after the year 2050, as also observed from the surface warming trends. As a result, lightning frequency and intensity values across the Indian region are expected to increase inline-formula∼ 10 %–25 % and 15 %–50 %, respectively, by the end of the century with the highest risk along the coasts; hence, this requires immediate attention from policymakers.



Chakraborty, Rohit / Chakraborty, Arindam / Basha, Ghouse / et al: Lightning occurrences and intensity over the Indian region: long-term trends and future projections. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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Rechteinhaber: Rohit Chakraborty et al.

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