According to a new study, lightning strikes in the US will increase by more than 50% by the end of the century due to climate changes. As the global temperatures increase, so does the chance of lightning strikes. Lightning strikes are also believed to cause more than 50% of the wild fires. Increasing Global temperatures means more severe storms as well as more lightning.
For every rise of 1 degree in The Earth’s average temperature, lightning strikes in the lower 48 states in the US will increase by 12%. This will inevitably cause more wildfires.
David Romps, an assistant professor of earth and planetary science and a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at University of California, Berkeley says, “With warming, thunderstorms become more explosive. This has to do with water vapor, which is the fuel for explosive deep convection in the atmosphere. Warming causes there to be more water vapor in the atmosphere, and if you have more fuel lying around, when you get ignition, it can go big time.”
Lightning strikes are also taking human toll which is increasing with each passing year. However as mentioned, wildfires are the biggest threat and often are the hardest to control. Increased lightning will also increase the nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, which exert a strong control on atmospheric chemistry.
The new estimates are based on calculations of convective energy and precipitation from future thunderstorms. It augurs well with fits three independent data sets based on past strikes. The study has been published online Thursday in the journal Science.
Another study conducted in 2008 which chronicled two decades of wildfire in Yosemite National Park revealed that a falling spring snowpack was linked with an exponential increase in lightning-ignited wildfires and an increase in areas. The study was conducted under the aegis of University of Washington. It also predicted a 19% increase in lightning-ignited wildfires by mid century.