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Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Distribution and Its Relationship with Orography and Anthropogenic Emissions in the Po Valley

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  • 1 Osservatorio Meteorologico Regionale/Agenzia per la Protezione dell’Ambiente del Friuli Venezia Giulia, Visco, Udine, Italy
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Abstract

The main object of this work is to study the lightning climatology in the Po Valley in Italy and how it varies in time (interannual, annual, weekly, and daily time scales) and space (sea coast, plains, and mountain areas) and how that is related to topographic characteristics and anthropogenic emissions. Cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning in the target area is analyzed for 18 yr of data (about 7 million records). It is found that the Julian Prealps of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region are one of the areas of maximum CG lightning activity across all of Europe. During spring lightning activity is more confined toward the mountainous regions, whereas during summer and even more during autumn the lightning activity involves also the coastal region and the Adriatic Sea. This is due to different triggering mechanisms acting in different topographic zones and during different periods of the year and times of the day. In analogy to previous studies of lightning done in the United States, a weekly cycle is also identified in the area of interest, showing that on Friday the probability of thunderstorms reaches its maximum. After conducting a parallel analysis with monitoring stations of atmospheric particulates (diameter ≤ 10 μm: PM10) and sounding-derived potential instability, the results presented herein seem to support the hypothesis that the weekly cycle in the thunderstorm activity may be due to anthropogenic emissions.

Current affiliation: Department of Engineering and Architecture, Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering Division, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.

Corresponding author address: Agostino Manzato, Osservatorio Meteorologico Regionale/Agenzia per la Protezione dell’Ambiente del Friuli Venezia Giulia (OSMER/ARPA–FVG), via Oberdan 18/a, Visco, UD 33040, Italy. E-mail: agostino.manzato@meteo.fvg.it

Abstract

The main object of this work is to study the lightning climatology in the Po Valley in Italy and how it varies in time (interannual, annual, weekly, and daily time scales) and space (sea coast, plains, and mountain areas) and how that is related to topographic characteristics and anthropogenic emissions. Cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning in the target area is analyzed for 18 yr of data (about 7 million records). It is found that the Julian Prealps of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region are one of the areas of maximum CG lightning activity across all of Europe. During spring lightning activity is more confined toward the mountainous regions, whereas during summer and even more during autumn the lightning activity involves also the coastal region and the Adriatic Sea. This is due to different triggering mechanisms acting in different topographic zones and during different periods of the year and times of the day. In analogy to previous studies of lightning done in the United States, a weekly cycle is also identified in the area of interest, showing that on Friday the probability of thunderstorms reaches its maximum. After conducting a parallel analysis with monitoring stations of atmospheric particulates (diameter ≤ 10 μm: PM10) and sounding-derived potential instability, the results presented herein seem to support the hypothesis that the weekly cycle in the thunderstorm activity may be due to anthropogenic emissions.

Current affiliation: Department of Engineering and Architecture, Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering Division, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.

Corresponding author address: Agostino Manzato, Osservatorio Meteorologico Regionale/Agenzia per la Protezione dell’Ambiente del Friuli Venezia Giulia (OSMER/ARPA–FVG), via Oberdan 18/a, Visco, UD 33040, Italy. E-mail: agostino.manzato@meteo.fvg.it
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