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The dangers of lightning (1)

A US research team published in Science in 2014 that global warming significantly increases the frequency of lightning strikes. Warmer weather and increased precipitation lead to more thunderstorms and they become more energetic.

The team’s work reveals a new method of working out the relationship between temperature and lightning storms by estimating the heat energy available to “fuel” storm clouds. The research says every 1°C rise in global temperature would lead to an increase in the frequency of lightning strikes by 12% in the United States based on data from US National Lightning Detector Network.

There are satellites that monitor lightning activity all over the world. This activity is charted and provides statistics that tell just how often lightning strikes any given area. At any given moment there are 2000 thunderstorms happening somewhere in the world. The earth experiences 50 to 100 lightning flashes a second.

Lightning kills as many as 2,000 people worldwide every year. Hundreds more people are struck but survive, usually with lingering and debilitating symptoms.

Severe thunderstorms swept across central Europe on the weekend of May 28 last year. Major thunderstorms are not uncommon around this time of year, but a low pressure center was covering a large swathe of the continent. High surface temperatures and cold air aloft, allowed cumulonimbus clouds to rise more than 10,000 meters through the atmosphere on that day. In Poland, a hiker died after being struck by lightning and another three people were injured in the same region. In France, 11 people were injured after being struck during a birthday celebration. In Germany, 35 people were injured at the children’s football match. Witnesses at the match said there were no dark clouds and the sky was blue when lightning struck.

(To be continued) (Floro Mercene)

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