JDR Vol.6 No.3 pp. 343-355
doi: 10.20965/jdr.2011.p0343


Characterization of Lightning Occurrence in Alaska Using Various Weather Indices for Lightning Forecasting

Murad Ahmed Farukh*, Hiroshi Hayasaka*, and Keiji Kimura**

*Graduate School of Engineering, Hokkaido University, Kita-ku, N13 W8, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-8628, Japan

**Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Hokkaido University, Kita-ku, N14 W9, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0814, Japan

February 18, 2011
April 21, 2011
June 1, 2011
lightning severity, LIFT, environmental temperatures, ordinary cell thunderstorm, moisture

Alaska lost 10% of its boreal forest area due to vigorous forest fires in 2004 and 2005. Repeated lightningcaused forest fires adversely impact residents and influence earth’s atmosphere in every fire season. The authors have reported on the weather conditions of Alaska’s most severe lightning occurrence in mid June 2005. This paper examines a range of weather indices like soar, instability, ‘dry lightning’ and other factors that could clearly explain lightning characteristics in Alaska. First, lightning occurrence days from May to September were classified into ‘non or small lightning’ days and ‘lightning’ days to determine threshold values. Second, ‘lightning’ days were categorized into ‘less severe,’ ‘severe,’ ‘very severe,’ and ‘extremely severe’ to notice controlling factors on the lightning severity. Based on this analysis, the lifted index (LIFT) was selected as sensitive to assess upper air instability, and Te850 (environmental temperature at 850 hPa) was selected as sensitive to assess warm and moist air masses. Finally, the possibilities of lightning forecasts in Alaska are discussed using lightning occurrence and LIFT and Te850 in 2005. As there is a time-lag between LIFT measurements (14:00) and the lightning peak (-17:00), and around one day time-lag between Te850 and lightning occurrence, lightning forecasts using LIFT and Te850 could provide a simply applicable forecast index for Alaska.

Cite this article as:
Murad Ahmed Farukh, Hiroshi Hayasaka, and Keiji Kimura, “Characterization of Lightning Occurrence in Alaska Using Various Weather Indices for Lightning Forecasting,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.6, No.3, pp. 343-355, 2011.
Data files:
  1. [1] M. Shulski, G. Wendler, S. Alden, and N. Larkin, “Alaska’s Exceptional 2004 Fire Season,” 6th Symposium on Fire & Forest Meteorology, Canmore, 2005.
  2. [2] C. Price and D. Rind. “Lightning activity in a greenhouse world,” Proceedings of the 11th Conference on Fire and ForestMeteorology 11, pp. 598-604, 1991.
  3. [3] E. Williams, “The Schumann resonance: a global tropical thermometer,” Science, 256, pp. 1184-1187, 1992.
  4. [4] E. Williams, “Global circuit response to seasonal variations in global surface air temperature,” Mon. Wea. Rev., pp. 1917-1929, 1994.
  5. [5] E. Williams, “Global circuit response to temperature on distinct time scales: a status report, in Atmos. Ionos. Electromag. Phenomena associated with Earthquakes,” M. Hayakawa (Ed.), TERRAPUB, Tokyo, pp. 939-949, 1999.
  6. [6] E. Williams, “Lightning and climate: a review,” Atmos. Res., 76, pp. 272-287, 2005.
  7. [7] E.Williams, “The global electrical circuit: A review,” Atmos. Res., 91, pp. 140-152, 2009.
  8. [8] W. Sullivan, “Low level convergence and thunderstorms in Alaska,” Mon. Wea. Rev., 91, pp. 82-92, 1963.
  9. [9] K. Biswas and K. Jayaweera, “NOAA-3 satellite observations of thunderstorms in Alaska,” Mon.Wea. Rev., 104, pp. 292-297, 1976.
  10. [10] R. M. Reap, “Climatology characteristics and objective prediction of thunderstorms over Alaska,” Wea. Forec. 6, pp. 309-319, 1991.
  11. [11] D. Dissing and D. L. Verbyla, “Spatial patterns of lightning strikes in interior Alaska and their relations to elevation and vegetation,” Can. J. For. Res., 33, pp. 770-782, 2003.
  12. [12] R. M. Reap, “Evaluation of cloud-to-ground lightning data from the western United States for the 1983-84 summer seasons,” J. App. Meteor. 25, pp. 785-799, 1986.
  13. [13] M. L. Rorig and S.A. Ferguson, “Characteristics of lightning and wildland fire ignition in the Pacific Northwest,” J. App. Meteor. 38, pp. 1565-1575, 1999.
  14. [14] M. L. Rorig and S. A. Ferguson, “The 2000 fire season: lightningcaused fires,” J. App. Meteor. 41, pp. 786-791, 2002.
  15. [15] K. R. Anderson, “Models to predict lightning occurrence and frequency over Alberta,” M. Sc. Thesis, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta, 1991.
  16. [16] R. L. Holle, A. I.Watson, R. E. Lopez, K.W. Howard, R. Ortiz, and L. Li, “Meteorological studies to improve short-range forecasting of lightning/thunderstorms within the Kennedy Space Center area,” Final Report, NOAA, National Severe Storms Laboratory to Office of Space Flight, NASA, Boulder, Colo, 1992.
  17. [17] R. M. Reap, “Analysis and prediction of lightning strike distributions associated with synoptic map types over Florida,” Mon. Weather Rev. 122, pp. 1698-1715, 1994.
  18. [18] R. M. Reap and D. S. Foster, “Automated 12-36 hour probability forecasts of thunderstorms and severe local storms,” J. App. Meteor. 18, pp. 1304-13015, 1979.
  19. [19] M. Richmond and T. Shy, “An extraordinary summer in the interior of Alaska,” Proceedings of the 85th AMS Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, p.1.5, 2005.
  20. [20] M. A. Farukh, H. Hayasaka, and K. Kimura, “Recent Severe Lightning Occurrences in Alaska – the case of June 2005 –” Journal of Disaster Research, Vol.6, No.3, 2011 (in press).
  21. [21] Alaska Fire Service (AFS), 2010.
  22. [22] Alaska Interagency Coordination Center (AICC), 2010.
  23. [23] Alaska Climate Research Center, 2010.
  24. [24] National Climatic Data Center, 2010.
  25. [25] E. Kalnay and Coauthors, “The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project,” Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77, pp. 437-470, 1996.
  26. [26] University of Wyoming, Department of Atmospheric Science, 2010.
  27. [27] C. Price and D. Rind. “The impact of a 2 x CO2 climate on lightning caused fires.” Journal of Climate 7, pp. 1484-1494, 1994.
  28. [28] E. McGuiney, M. Shulski, and G.Wendler, “Alaska lightning climatology and application to wildfire science,” Proceedings of the 85th AMS Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, p.2.14, 2005.
  29. [29] J.W. VanWagtendonk and D. R. Cayan, “Temporal and spatial distribution of lightning in California in relation to large-scale weather patterns,” Fire Ecology Vol.4, No.1, pp. 34-56, 2008.
  30. [30] M. L. Rorig, S. A. Ferguson, and S. McKay, “Forecasting dry lightning in the western United States,” Proceedings of the 5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology, Orlando, FL, p.1.4, 2003.
  31. [31] G. K. Grice and A.L. Comisky, “Thunderstorm Climatology of Alaska,” NOAA Technical Memo, NWS AR-14, p. 36, 1976.

*This site is desgined based on HTML5 and CSS3 for modern browsers, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera.

Last updated on Feb. 25, 2021