547 Lightning Flash Rate in the Lower Maracaibo Basin, Venezuela Related to Sea Surface Temperatures and Tropospheric Airflow

Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Deirdre Smith, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA; and J. C. Trepanier and Á. Muñoz

Northern Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo Basin (LMB) has the highest lightning flash rate (LFR) density in the world. The area receives approximately 200 flashes/km^2 annually. Local topography as well as local and global scale climate drivers have been shown to influence the frequency of the lightning storms, known as Catatumbo Lightning. This research focuses on influences on LFR in the LMB by regional and global sea surface temperatures (SST) and local tropospheric air characteristics. Data are analyzed using Spearman's Rank correlation coefficient to determine relationships to LFR data in the basin. Three oceanic regions are analyzed, including; the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean (El Niño Region) and the Atlantic Ocean (Atlantic Meridional Mode region). Five tropospheric elements are analyzed, including temperature, relative humidity, u-wind, v-wind and wind speed. The data are analyzed on annual and seasonal temporal scales. Many statistically significant correlations were found, including positive relationships between u-wind and LFR at the 200 mb level, negative relationships between SST in the western Pacific Ocean and strong correlations between SST in the Caribbean and LFR in the summer months.
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