We gridded 11 years of cloud‐to‐ground (CG) flashes detected by the U.S. National Lightning Detection Network during the warm season in 15 km × 15 km × 15 min grid cells to identify storms with substantial CG flash rates clearly dominated by flashes lowering one polarity of charge to the ground or the other (+CG flashes vs. −CG flashes). Previous studies in the central United States had found that the gross charge distribution of storms dominated by +CG flashes included a large upper negative charge over a large middle level positive charge, a reversal of the usual polarities. In each of seven regions spanning the contiguous United States (CONUS), we compared 17 environmental parameters of storms dominated by +CG flashes with those of storms dominated by –CG flashes. These parameters were chosen based on their expected roles in modulating supercooled liquid water content (SLWC) in the updraft because laboratory experiments have shown that SLWC affects the polarity of charge exchanged during rebounding collisions between riming graupel and small ice particles in the mixed phase region. This, in turn, would affect the vertical polarity of a storm's charge distribution and the dominant polarity of CG flashes. Our results suggest that the combination of parameters conducive to dominant +CG flash activity and, by inference, to anomalous storm charge structure varies widely from region to region, the lack of a favorable value of any particular parameter in a given region being offset by favorable values of one or more other parameters.
In Part I, an electrification scheme was described and a simulation of an observed cold-based storm from the U.S. Great Plains was validated with electrical observations. Most charge in the storm was separated by rebounding collisions of secondary ice originating from prior graupel–snow collisions. In this Part II, sensitivity tests are performed with the control simulation (Part I) and influences from environmental factors (aerosols, temperature, moisture, and shear) on lightning are elucidated. Environmental factors [e.g., convective available potential energy (CAPE)] controlling updraft speed are salient. When ascent is reduced by 30% and 70%, flashes become 70% fewer and disappear, respectively; faster ascent promotes positive cloud-to-ground (+CGs) flashes. Since cloud base is too cold (1°C) for coalescence, cloud condensation nucleus aerosol concentrations do not influence the lightning appreciably. The electrical response to varying concentrations of active ice nuclei is limited by most ice particles being secondary and less sensitive—a natural “buffer.” Imposing a maritime sounding suggests that the land–sea contrast in lightning for such storms is due to the vertical structure of environmental temperature and humidity. Weak CAPE, and both entrainment and condensate weight from a low cloud base, suppress ascent and charging. Maritime thermodynamic conditions reduce simulated flash rates by two orders of magnitude. Reducing aerosol loadings from continental to maritime only slightly reinforces this suppression. Last, a conceptual model is provided for how any simulated storm is either normal because graupel/hail is mostly positively charged or else is inverted/anomalous because graupel/hail is mostly negatively charged, with environmental factors controlling the charging. Impacts from microphysical processes, including three processes of secondary ice production, on lightning are analyzed.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- American Meteorological Society
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 263-300
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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