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Colin Price and David Rind


A general circulation model (GCM) is used to model global lightning distributions and frequencies. Both total and cloud-to-ground lightning frequencies are modeled using parameterizations that relate the depth of convective clouds to lightning frequencies. The model's simulations of lightning distributions in time and space show good agreement with available observations. The model's annual mean climatology shows a global lightning frequency of 77 flashes per second, with cloud-to-ground lightning making up 25% of the total. The maximum lightning activity in the GCM occurs during the Northern Hemisphere summer, with approximately 91% of all lightning occurring over continental and coastal regions.

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The relationship between midtropospheric synoptic features and midstratospheric temperature in winter is investigated by examining averages of 5–10 yr of observations, monthly mean observations, and daily records. It is found that midstratospheric warm regions lie above midtropospheric troughs and subtropical ridges, while stratospheric cold regions occur above high-latitude tropospheric ridges. Thus, at high latitudes, an inverse correlation exists between 500-mb height and 10-mb temperatures; this correlation seems to be simultaneous in nature. The implications of these results are discussed with relation to the general circulation of the stratosphere, and in particular to the relative importance of hydrostatic adjustment, planetary wave propagation, and tidal energy.

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