Thunderstorms, lightning and climate change

Colin Price*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The distribution of lightning around the planet is directly linked to the Earth's climate, which is driven by solar insolation. The diurnal and seasonal heating of the continental landmasses results in large fluctuations in temperature, influencing atmospheric stability, and the development of thunderstorms. Lightning activity is positively correlated with surface temperatures on short time scales, and due to projections of a warmer climate in the future, one of the key questions is related to the impact of future global warming on lightning, thunderstorms, and other severe weather. Lightning itself is also linked to variations in upper tropospheric water vapour, and tropospheric ozone, both of which are strong greenhouse gases. Climate model studies show that in a future warmer climate we may have less thunderstorms overall, but more intense thunderstorms, which may increase the amount of lightning by 10% for every one degree global warming.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLightning
Subtitle of host publicationPrinciples, Instruments and Applications: Review of Modern Lightning Research
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781402090783
StatePublished - 2009


  • Climate
  • Climate change
  • ENSO
  • General circulation
  • Global climate
  • Global warming
  • Lightning
  • Thunderstorms


Dive into the research topics of 'Thunderstorms, lightning and climate change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this