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Fan Wu, Xiaopeng Cui, Da-Lin Zhang, Dongxia Liu, and Dong Zheng

Abstract

In this study, the spatiotemporal characteristics of cloud-to-ground (CG) and intracloud (IC) lightning flashes observed by Surveillance et Alerte Foudre par Interférometrie Radioélectrique (SAFIR)-3000 over the Beijing metropolitan region (BMR) during 2005–07 were investigated. The results showed the presence of 299 lightning days with 241 688 flashes, most of which were IC lightning flashes. Only 19% of the total flashes were CG lightning flashes; 14% of these CG flashes were positive. Most lightning activity occurred during the summer months (June–August), with a major diurnal peak around 1900 Beijing standard time (BST) and a secondary peak around 2300 BST. Spatial variations in flash density and lightning days both exhibited an obvious southeastwardly increasing pattern, with higher flash densities or more lightning days occurring in the southeastern plains and lower values distributed on the northwestern mountains. The Z ratio (IC/CG lightning flashes) exhibited a similar spatial pattern, but the percentage of positive CG lightning flashes showed an almost opposite pattern. The results also showed significant topographic effects on the spatiotemporal variations in lightning activity. That is, flash counts on the northeastern and southwestern mountains peaked in the afternoon, whereas those on the southeastern plains peaked in the late night to early morning, which could be attributed to the propagation of thunderstorms from the mountains to the plains. The results showed that the SAFIR-3000 lightning data are more useful than CG lightning data alone for forecasting the development and propagation of thunderstorms over the BMR.

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