109 Applying Satellite Aerosol Retrievals for Lightning Prediction in Northern Alabama

Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Grand Terrace (Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center)
Tong Ren, Texas A&M Univ., College Station, TX; and A. D. Rapp, J. R. Mecikalski, J. Apke, L. D. Carey, and S. L. Nasiri

A number of studies have suggested the close linkage between aerosols and lightning; however, the exact mechanism and whether the awareness of the aerosol state is helpful for lightning prediction remains unclear. Among available satellite aerosol retrievals at present, Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrievals from the Terra and Aqua satellites appear to have potential for improving lightning predictions. MODIS AOD, lightning flash counts from the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array (NALMA), NEXRAD radar data, and environmental characteristics from reanalysis from 2002-2014 are analyzed to determine whether a relationship exists between aerosols and enhanced lightning activity and how this relationship is modified by the meteorological conditions. MODIS AOD retrievals have a weak, but statistically significant correlation with lightning flash rate density during 15:00 – 18:00 central daylight time (CDT). Lightning flash density increases when the MODIS AODs are larger. The relationship between AOD and lightning flash density is most significant in environments with low convective available potential energy (CAPE) and weak wind shear. The skill of the satellite aerosol retrievals as a lightning predictor in different meteorological environments will be tested using statistical measures of accuracy and reliability. Preliminary results show that a tradeoff needs to be made between the hits rate and the false alarm ratio using AOD as a predictor.
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