Lightning: Brazil's yearly average to rise from 77.8 to 100 mi strikes

The country still ranks first for incidence of lightning

Published in 24/01/2022 - 13:07 By Pedro Peduzzi - Brasília

Brazil stands atop the world’s ranking for lightning, with an average of 77.8 million reports a year. The figure, however, is low compared to the total registered over the last two years.

In 2021, 154 million lightning strikes hit Brazil’s territory. In 2020, this number slipped to 126 million. By the end of this century, the Brazilian average is expected to reach 100 million bolts of lightning a year, as per the country’s space research institute Inpe.

According to Osmar Pinto Júnior, coordinator for Inpe’s Atmospheric Electricity, climate change influenced the phenomenon, since “storms and lightning increase as a result of air humidity and high temperatures.”

The incidence, he went on to say, is even higher during spring and summer—seasons during which the phenomenon is more prone to happen.

Brazil’s lead on the list is wide. In second place comes the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a yearly 43.2 million lightning strikes. The US comes third, with 35 million, followed by Australia (31.2 million), China (28 million), and India (26.9 million).

On the estimated incidence of lightning for the 21st century, the specialist explains that the calculation was based on the link between lightning and meteorological conditions predicted by the Global Climate Models (GCM).

“Unlike meteorological models routinely used in weather forecasts, these models allow us to estimate weather conditions for periods decades away. To make GCM results as accurate as possible, we ran the model 12 times considering differences in the evolution of environmental conditions and we calculated the average result,” he told Agência Brasil.

The study, he added, utilizes a scenario of greenhouse gas emissions with “no significant change in emissions” in the coming decades, which seems the most likely thing to happen, he pointed out.

“In this scenario, we expect a 4ºC increase in the globe’s average temperature by the end of the century, compared to 1961 through 1990,” he said. “The general pattern in the geographic distribution of lightning in the country should not change before the end of the century, with the North showing the highest rates and the Northeast the lowest.”

The sharpest surges in the lightning rate are expected to be reported in the North of Brazil (50%). The Northeast, conversely, should witness a small growth (10%). “The other regions should see increases in lightning between 20 and 40 percent. More dramatic surges may be reported locally, in small areas,” he stated.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Claudia Felczak

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