Aerosols and lightning activity: The effect of vertical profile and aerosol type

E. Proestakis*, S. Kazadzis, K. Lagouvardos, V. Kotroni, V. Amiridis, E. Marinou, C. Price, A. Kazantzidis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) instrument on board the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite has been utilized for the first time in a study regarding lightning activity modulation due to aerosols. Lightning activity observations, obtained by the ZEUS long range Lightning Detection Network, European Centre for Medium range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) data and Cloud Fraction (CF) retrieved by MODIS on board Aqua satellite have been combined with CALIPSO CALIOP data over the Mediterranean basin and for the period March to November, from 2007 to 2014. The results indicate that lightning activity is enhanced during days characterized by higher Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) values, compared to days with no lightning. This study contributes to existing studies on the link between lightning activity and aerosols, which have been based just on columnar AOD satellite retrievals, by performing a deeper analysis into the effect of aerosol profiles and aerosol types. Correlation coefficients of R = 0.73 between the CALIPSO AOD and the number of lightning strikes detected by ZEUS and of R = 0.93 between ECMWF CAPE and lightning activity are obtained. The analysis of extinction coefficient values at 532 nm indicates that at an altitudinal range exists, between 1.1 km and 2.9 km, where the values for extinction coefficient of lightning-active and non-lightning-active cases are statistically significantly different. Finally, based on the CALIPSO aerosol subtype classification, we have investigated the aerosol conditions of lightning-active and non-lightning-active cases. According to the results polluted dust aerosols are more frequently observed during non-lightning-active days, while dust and smoke aerosols are more abundant in the atmosphere during the lightning-active days.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-255
Number of pages13
JournalAtmospheric Research
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2016


  • Aerosol-cloud interaction
  • CALIPSO satellite
  • Lightning activity
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • ZEUS Lightning Detection Network


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