Sunday, June 18, 2017

Climate Change May Spark More Lightning Strikes, Igniting Wildfires

I just spent a lot of time trying to find out the number of recorded lightning strikes per year, could only find information on deaths caused by lightning strikes, which is not the same since we have more safety devices now.

I found the National Lightning Detection Network, for the U.S., which has a database, but I don't have time to try to see if I can get the information I want.

Climate Change May Spark More Lightning Strikes, Igniting Wildfires

By Jane J. Lee, National Geographic
PUBLISHED November 15, 2014

Add this to rising seas, more intense hurricanes, and more frequent thunderstorms: Climate change will also spark more lightning.

The frequency of lightning flashes could rise by an estimated 50 percent across the continental U.S. over the next century, researchers report Thursday in the journal Science. That's bad news for wildfires across the country.

Lightning triggers about half the wildfires in the continental U.S., says lead study author David Romps, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. (Learn "Why Big, Intense Wildfires Are the New Normal.")

A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, says Romps. And moisture is one of the key ingredients for triggering a lightning strike.

Increased lightning will also affect greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, he says, though that could be both a good and a bad thing.

The bad: More lightning means more ozone, which is a potent greenhouse gas, Romps says.

But on the positive side, lightning also produces compounds called nitrogen oxides, which indirectly reduce levels of methane, another powerful greenhouse gas, says Romps.


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