Using Lightning Data to Unravel Tropical Cyclone Structure and Intensity Changes
As the WWLLN has continued to add sensors around the globe, the detection efficiency of the network has increased, and it has become useful for tropical cyclone observations and research. A set of Atlantic and East Pacific TCs from 2005-2013 will be examined to determine if lightning bursts aid in intensification and if there is a common diurnal lightning signal in TCs. A case study of Hurricane Earl (2010), a TC that spent most of its life over the open Atlantic and distant from land, will be analyzed as a case study. The WWLLN identified a burst of lightning in the inner core of Earl that aided in the understanding of the TC dynamics that supported the subsequent rapid intensification of Earl into a major hurricane. Additionally, a diurnal signal in the lightning was observed that propagated radially outward each day, supporting the findings of a recent study that suggested the diurnal cycle in TCs is relevant to structure and intensity changes.