Space Research

Global warming could reduce number of lightning storms, study claims

Researchers have predicted as much as 15 per cent drop in lightning storms around the world as our planet warms in future.

Through a study published in journal Nature Climate Change scientists have said that warming of the planet could lead to decline in lightning strikes across the globe. The reduction of 15 per cent in lighting strikes could happen by the turn of the century, scientists have said.

This decline in number of lighting strikes could cause a reduction in number of wildfires across the world – specifically in the tropical areas. Further the frequency of lighting strikes on human-made structures including high-rises could also decrease. Further, lower incidence of lightning strikes could affect how greenhouse gases in the atmosphere contribute to climate change.

For the study researchers in the UK devised a new method to calculate the likely incidence of lightning flashes from storm clouds. Currently used models and calculations that predict lighting strikes are based on height of clouds and their approach takes into account the movement of tiny ice particles that form and move within clouds.

Electrical charges build up in these ice particles, and in cold water droplets and soft hail formed inside clouds. These are discharged during storms, giving rise to lightning flashes and thunder. Scientists estimate there are 1.4 billion lightning flashes each year around the world.

The latest results, accounting for a 5C rise in global average temperatures by the year 2100, show that on average lightning flashes are less likely in future, in contrast to previous studies.

About the author

Maheen McMahon

Maheen McMahon

With multiple research papers under her belt, Maheen loves writing about science. Just fresh out of college, Mahen has great understanding about astronomy and cover space research news. You can get in touch with her here.

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