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Projection of Global Future Lightning Occurrence using only Large-Scale Environmental Variables in CAM5
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  • Montana Etten-Bohm,
  • Courtney Schumacher,
  • Yangyang Xu,
  • Aaron Funk
Montana Etten-Bohm
University of North Dakota

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Courtney Schumacher
Texas A&M University
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Yangyang Xu
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Aaron Funk
Texas A&M University
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This study evaluates a lightning parameterization that utilizes only large-scale environmental variables (i.e., convective available potential energy (CAPE), column moisture, and lifting condensation level (LCL)) for present-day (2017-19) and end-of-century (2098-2100) RCP8.5 climate scenarios in the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5). Using a single equation, the present-day prediction can produce a reasonable land/ocean ratio in lightning occurrence. The end-of-century prediction shows relative increases of about 50% over higher-latitude land, but much more variable increases and decreases across mid-latitude ocean and the tropics such that the overall global lightning occurrence is expected to slightly decrease. Lightning occurrence over land predicted from present-day CAM5 is less than that using MERRA-2 reanalysis because of differences in the basic-state variables used as predictors. In addition, the choice of dilute or undilute CAPE will impact future lightning predictions over land, but the environment-only parameterization results are more consistent than a CAPE x precipitation parameterization.