Lightning strikes are expected to increase by 50 percent with global warming, suggests a new study.
Climate scientists at University of California, Berkeley, who looked at predictions of precipitation and cloud buoyancy in 11 different climate models, concluded that their combined effect will generate more frequent electrical discharges to the ground.
Scientist David Romps said that with warming, thunderstorms become more explosive and this has to do with water vapor, which is the fuel for explosive deep convection in the atmosphere.
Romps added that warming causes there to be more water vapor in the atmosphere, like, if people have more fuel lying around, when they get ignition, it can go big time.
More lightning strikes mean more human injuries, but another significant impact of increased lightning strikes would be more wildfires, since half of all fires and often the hardest to fight are ignited by lightning, Romps said.
More lightning also would likely generate more nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, which exert a strong control on atmospheric chemistry.
He further said that lightning is caused by charge separation within clouds, and to maximize charge separation, people have to loft more water vapor and heavy ice particles into the atmosphere, and so, the faster the updrafts, the more lightning, and the more precipitation, the more lightning.
The study is published in the journal Science.