U.S. Will See 12% More Lightning Per Degree of Temperature Rise
Lightning strikes will increase 12% in the United States for each degree of temperature rise due to climate change, according to a new paper in the journal Science.
“Lightning is more likely in a warmer world because thunderstorms need warm, rapidly-rising air in order to develop,” McSweeney writes. “But working out how lightning will be affected by climate change is difficult because climate models don’t simulate lightning directly.”
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So “the study approximates lightning in climate models by combining the two factors of rainfall and the amount of energy in the atmosphere, which makes air rise.”
The U.S. currently sees about 25 million lightning strikes per year, resulting in dozens of deaths, $451 million in fire damage, and 30,000 fires, including 9,000 wildfires.