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Revisiting the Link between Thunderstorms and Upper Tropospheric Water Vapor
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  • Colin G Price,
  • Tair Plotnik,
  • Nikolay V. Ilin,
  • Joydeb Saha,
  • Anirban Guha
Colin G Price
Tel Aviv University

Corresponding Author:cprice@flash.tau.ac.il

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Tair Plotnik
Tel Aviv University
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Nikolay V. Ilin
Institute of Applied Physics
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Joydeb Saha
Tripura Unibersity
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Anirban Guha
Tripura University
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The most important feedback in the climate system is related to changes in atmospheric water vapor or specific humidity (SH), with some of this water vapor transported to the upper troposphere through thunderstorms. This study uses lightning and SH data to show high correlations between the zonal mean lightning activity and the zonal mean SH concentrations in the upper troposphere. The best correlations (r~0.9) are between lightning activity and UTWV at the 200 mb level (~12 km altitude). Both lightning and SH at 200mb are 20% higher in July than in January. While the SH increases in concentration above the thunderstorms in the upper troposphere, in the lower stratosphere, a significant drying of the atmosphere is observed due to the “cold trap” region near the tropopause where the atmosphere is “freeze-dried” by the production of ice crystals and cirrus clouds, preventing the further rise of water vapor into the stratosphere.