Projected increase in lightning strikes in the United States due to global warming

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 9:45 AM
225AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
David M. Romps, University of California, Berkeley, CA; and J. T. Seeley, D. Vollaro, and J. Molinari

Lightning plays an important role in atmospheric chemistry and in the initiation of wildfires, but the impact of global warming on lightning rates is poorly constrained. The lightning flash rate is proposed here to be proportional to the convective available potential energy (CAPE) times the precipitation rate. Using observations, the product of CAPE and precipitation is found to explain the majority of variance in the time series of total cloud-to-ground lightning flashes over the contiguous United States (CONUS) on timescales ranging from diurnal to seasonal. The observations reveal that storms convert the CAPE of water mass to discharged lightning energy with an efficiency of about 1%. This proxy can be applied to global climate models, which provide predictions for the increase in lightning due to global warming. Results from 11 GCMs will be shown.