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Colin Price
and
David Rind

Abstract

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.

Full access
Maayan Harel
and
Colin Price

Abstract

Thunderstorms inflict death and damage worldwide due to lightning, heavy rains, hail, and strong winds. While the effect of global warming on future thunderstorm activity is still debatable, this work investigates how thunderstorm activity over Africa may have changed over the last 70 years. Thunderstorm data were obtained from the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) and processed to produce thunderstorm clusters. The number and area of clusters in one year (2013) were compared with several climate parameters tied to thunderstorm development, taken from the NCEP–NCAR Reanalysis-1 product (NCEP). The two parameters that correlated best with thunderstorm number were lifted index and specific humidity, with correlations of −0.795 and 0.779, respectively. These parameters were used to construct an empirical model that predicts the number and area of thunderstorm clusters over Africa on a particular day, month, or year. The empirical model was run from 1948 to 2016, providing a reconstruction of long-term thunderstorm activity over Africa. The time series was compared to temperature data from NCEP, and showed that the number of clusters increased with rising surface temperature on annual and decadal time scales, particularly since the mid-1990s. On an annual time scale, the number and area of thunderstorm clusters exhibited a highly sensitive relationship with surface temperature, with a ~40% increase in the number of thunderstorm clusters for every 1-K rise in temperature over Africa. The correlation coefficients with surface temperature were 0.745 and 0.743 for cluster number and area, respectively, indicating that surface temperature explains ~55% of the variability in interannual thunderstorm clusters over the past 70 years.

Free access
Colin Price
and
David Rind

Abstract

Future climate change could have significant repercussions for lightning-caused wildfires. Two empirical fire models are presented relating the frequency of lightning fires and the area burned by these fires to the elective precipitation and the frequency of thunderstorm activity. One model deals with the seasonal variations in lightning fires, while the second model deals with the interannual variations of lightning fires. These fire models are then used with the Goddard Institute for Space Studies General Circulation Model to investigate possible changes in fire frequency and area burned in a 2 × CO2 climate. In the United States, the annual mean number of lightning fires increases by 44%, while the area burned increases by 78%. On a global scale, the largest increase in lightning fires can be expected in untouched tropical ecosystems where few natural fires occur today.

Full access
Colin Price
and
Mustafa Asfur

Lightning activity in thunderstorms is closely related to the intensity of vertical updrafts in deep convective clouds that also transport large amounts of moisture into the upper troposphere. Small changes in the amount of upper-tropospheric water vapor (UTWV) can have major implications for the Earth's climate. New evidence is presented showing a strong connection between the daily variability of tropical lightning activity and daily upper-tropospheric water vapor concentrations from the NCEP-NCAR reanalysis. Our results over the African continent show that the NCEP upper-tropospheric water vapor peaks one day after intense lightning activity in the Tropics. Given the many caveats related to the NCEP UTWV product over Africa, these results need to be interpreted with caution. However, since global lightning activity can be monitored from a few ground stations around the world via the Schumann resonances, we suggest the possible use of continuous lightning observations for studying the daily variability of upper-tropospheric water vapor. Whether lightning is related to UTWV on other spatial and temporal scales needs further investigation.

Full access
William R. Burrows
,
Colin Price
, and
Laurence J. Wilson

Abstract

Statistical models valid May–September were developed to predict the probability of lightning in 3-h intervals using observations from the North American Lightning Detection Network and predictors derived from Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) model output at the Canadian Meteorological Centre. Models were built with pooled data from the years 2000–01 using tree-structured regression. Error reduction by most models was about 0.4–0.7 of initial predictand variance.

Many predictors were required to model lightning occurrence for this large area. Highest ranked overall were the Showalter index, mean sea level pressure, and troposphere precipitable water. Three-hour changes of 500-hPa geopotential height, 500–1000-hPa thickness, and MSL pressure were highly ranked in most areas. The 3-h average of most predictors was more important than the mean or maximum (minimum where appropriate). Several predictors outranked CAPE, indicating it must appear with other predictors for successful statistical lightning prediction models.

Results presented herein demonstrate that tree-structured regression is a viable method for building statistical models to forecast lightning probability. Real-time forecasts in 3-h intervals to 45–48 h were made in 2003 and 2004. The 2003 verification suggests a hybrid forecast based on a mixture of maximum and mean forecast probabilities in a radius around a grid point and on monthly climatology will improve accuracy. The 2004 verification shows that the hybrid forecasts had positive skill with respect to a reference forecast and performed better than forecasts defined by either the mean or maximum probability at most times. This was achieved even though an increase of resolution and change of convective parameterization scheme were made to the GEM model in May 2004.

Full access
Barry H. Lynn
,
Yoav Yair
,
Colin Price
,
Guy Kelman
, and
Adam J. Clark

Abstract

A new prognostic, spatially and temporally dependent variable is introduced to the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF). This variable is called the potential electrical energy (Ep ). It was used to predict the dynamic contribution of the grid-scale-resolved microphysical and vertical velocity fields to the production of cloud-to-ground and intracloud lightning in convection-allowing forecasts. The source of Ep is assumed to be the noninductive charge separation process involving collisions of graupel and ice particles in the presence of supercooled liquid water. The Ep dissipates when it exceeds preassigned threshold values and lightning is generated. An analysis of four case studies is presented and analyzed. On the 4-km simulation grid, a single cloud-to-ground lightning event was forecast with about equal values of probability of detection (POD) and false alarm ratio (FAR). However, when lighting was integrated onto 12-km and then 36-km grid overlays, there was a large improvement in the forecast skill, and as many as 10 cloud-to-ground lighting events were well forecast on the 36-km grid. The impact of initial conditions on forecast accuracy is briefly discussed, including an evaluation of the scheme in wintertime, when lightning activity is weaker. The dynamic algorithm forecasts are also contrasted with statistical lightning forecasts and differences are noted. The scheme is being used operationally with the Rapid Refresh (13 km) data; the skill scores in these operational runs were very good in clearly defined convective situations.

Full access
Alexander G. Keul
,
Bernhard Brunner
,
John Allen
,
Katie A. Wilson
,
Mateusz Taszarek
,
Colin Price
,
Gary Soleiman
,
Sanjay Sharma
,
Partha Roy
,
Mat Said Aini
,
Abu Bakar Elistina
,
Mohd Zainal Abidin Ab Kadir
, and
Chandima Gomes

ABSTRACT

Weather risk perception research lacks multihazard and transcultural datasets. This hypothesis-generating study used a cognitive behavioral approach and Brunswik’s lens model for subjective risk parameters across eight countries. In Germany, Poland, Israel, the United States, Brazil, India, Malaysia, and Australia, 812 field interviews took place with a uniform set of 37 questions about weather interest, media access, elementary meteorological knowledge, weather fear, preparedness, loss due to weather, and sociodemography. The local randomized quota samples were strictly tested for sample errors; however, they cannot be considered representative for individual countries due to sample size and methodology. Highly rated subjective risks included flood, heat, tornado, and lightning. Weather fear was most prominent in the Malaysian sample and lowest in the German.

Subjective elements were further explored with bivariate correlations and a multivariate regression analysis. Sociodemography correlated with psychological variables like knowledge, interest, and fear. Fear was related with subjective risk; less educated and informed people were more fearful. A linear regression analysis identified interest, gender, housing type, education, loss due to weather, and local weather access as the significant predictors for preparedness. The level of preparedness was highest in the United States and Australia and lowest in the Malaysian and Brazilian samples. A lack of meteorological training and infrequent loss experiences make media communication important and emphasize the value of repetition for basic information. Elements of this survey can serve to monitor weather-related psychological orientations of vulnerable population groups. Finally, this survey provides a template with which larger representative transcultural multihazard perception studies can be pursued.

Full access
Robert J. H. Dunn
,
Freya Aldred
,
Nadine Gobron
,
John B. Miller
,
Kate M. Willett
,
Melanie Ades
,
Robert Adler
,
R. P. Allan
,
John Anderson
,
Orlane Anneville
,
Yasuyuki Aono
,
Anthony Argüez
,
Carlo Arosio
,
John A. Augustine
,
Cesar Azorin-Molina
,
Jonathan Barichivich
,
Aman Basu
,
Hylke E. Beck
,
Nicolas Bellouin
,
Angela Benedetti
,
Kevin Blagrave
,
Stephen Blenkinsop
,
Olivier Bock
,
Xavier Bodin
,
Michael G. Bosilovich
,
Olivier Boucher
,
Gerald Bove
,
Dennis Buechler
,
Stefan A. Buehler
,
Laura Carrea
,
Kai-Lan Chang
,
Hanne H. Christiansen
,
John R. Christy
,
Eui-Seok Chung
,
Laura M. Ciasto
,
Melanie Coldewey-Egbers
,
Owen R. Cooper
,
Richard C. Cornes
,
Curt Covey
,
Thomas Cropper
,
Molly Crotwell
,
Diego Cusicanqui
,
Sean M. Davis
,
Richard A. M. de Jeu
,
Doug Degenstein
,
Reynald Delaloye
,
Markus G. Donat
,
Wouter A. Dorigo
,
Imke Durre
,
Geoff S. Dutton
,
Gregory Duveiller
,
James W. Elkins
,
Thomas W. Estilow
,
Nava Fedaeff
,
David Fereday
,
Vitali E. Fioletov
,
Johannes Flemming
,
Michael J. Foster
,
Stacey M. Frith
,
Lucien Froidevaux
,
Martin Füllekrug
,
Judith Garforth
,
Jay Garg
,
Matthew Gentry
,
Steven Goodman
,
Qiqi Gou
,
Nikolay Granin
,
Mauro Guglielmin
,
Sebastian Hahn
,
Leopold Haimberger
,
Brad D. Hall
,
Ian Harris
,
Debbie L. Hemming
,
Martin Hirschi
,
Shu-pen (Ben) Ho
,
Robert Holzworth
,
Filip Hrbáček
,
Daan Hubert
,
Petra Hulsman
,
Dale F. Hurst
,
Antje Inness
,
Ketil Isaksen
,
Viju O. John
,
Philip D. Jones
,
Robert Junod
,
Andreas Kääb
,
Johannes W. Kaiser
,
Viktor Kaufmann
,
Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer
,
Elizabeth C. Kent
,
Richard Kidd
,
Hyungiun Kim
,
Zak Kipling
,
Akash Koppa
,
Jan Henning L’Abée-Lund
,
Xin Lan
,
Kathleen O. Lantz
,
David Lavers
,
Norman G. Loeb
,
Diego Loyola
,
Remi Madelon
,
Hilmar J. Malmquist
,
Wlodzimierz Marszelewski
,
Michael Mayer
,
Matthew F. McCabe
,
Tim R. McVicar
,
Carl A. Mears
,
Annette Menzel
,
Christopher J. Merchant
,
Diego G. Miralles
,
Stephen A. Montzka
,
Colin Morice
,
Leander Mösinger
,
Jens Mühle
,
Julien P. Nicolas
,
Jeannette Noetzli
,
Tiina Nõges
,
Ben Noll
,
John O’Keefe
,
Tim J. Osborn
,
Taejin Park
,
Cecile Pellet
,
Maury S. Pelto
,
Sarah E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick
,
Coda Phillips
,
Stephen Po-Chedley
,
Lorenzo Polvani
,
Wolfgang Preimesberger
,
Colin Price
,
Merja Pulkkanen
,
Dominik G. Rains
,
William J. Randel
,
Samuel Rémy
,
Lucrezia Ricciardulli
,
Andrew D. Richardson
,
David A. Robinson
,
Matthew Rodell
,
Nemesio J. Rodríguez-Fernández
,
Karen H. Rosenlof
,
Chris Roth
,
Alexei Rozanov
,
This Rutishäuser
,
Ahira Sánchez-Lugo
,
Parnchai Sawaengphokhai
,
Verena Schenzinger
,
Robert W. Schlegel
,
Udo Schneider
,
Sapna Sharma
,
Lei Shi
,
Adrian J. Simmons
,
Carolina Siso
,
Sharon L. Smith
,
Brian J. Soden
,
Viktoria Sofieva
,
Tim H. Sparks
,
Paul W. Stackhouse Jr.
,
Ryan Stauffer
,
Wolfgang Steinbrecht
,
Andrea K. Steiner
,
Kenton Stewart
,
Pietro Stradiotti
,
Dimitri A. Streletskiy
,
Hagen Telg
,
Stephen J. Thackeray
,
Emmanuel Thibert
,
Michael Todt
,
Daisuke Tokuda
,
Kleareti Tourpali
,
Mari R. Tye
,
Ronald van der A
,
Robin van der Schalie
,
Gerard van der Schrier
,
Mendy van der Vliet
,
Guido R. van der Werf
,
Arnold. van Vliet
,
Jean-Paul Vernier
,
Isaac J. Vimont
,
Katrina Virts
,
Sebastiàn Vivero
,
Holger Vömel
,
Russell S. Vose
,
Ray H. J. Wang
,
Markus Weber
,
David Wiese
,
Jeanette D. Wild
,
Earle Williams
,
Takmeng Wong
,
R. I. Woolway
,
Xungang Yin
,
Ye Yuan
,
Lin Zhao
,
Xinjia Zhou
,
Jerry R. Ziemke
,
Markus Ziese
, and
Ruxandra M. Zotta
Free access
Robert J. H. Dunn
,
John B. Miller
,
Kate M. Willett
,
Nadine Gobron
,
Melanie Ades
,
Robert Adler
,
Mihai Alexe
,
Richard P. Allan
,
John Anderson
,
Orlane Anneville
,
Yasuyuki Aono
,
Anthony Arguez
,
Carlo Arosio
,
John A. Augustine
,
Cesar Azorin-Molina
,
Jonathan Barichivich
,
John E. Barnes
,
Hylke E. Beck
,
Nicolas Bellouin
,
Angela Benedetti
,
Kevin Blagrave
,
Stephen Blenkinsop
,
Olivier Bock
,
Xavier Bodin
,
Michael Bosilovich
,
Olivier Boucher
,
Dennis Buechler
,
Stefan A. Buehler
,
Diego Campos
,
Laura Carrea
,
Kai-Lan Chang
,
Hanne H. Christiansen
,
John R. Christy
,
Eui-Seok Chung
,
Laura M. Ciasto
,
Scott Clingan
,
Melanie Coldewey-Egbers
,
Owen R. Cooper
,
Richard C. Cornes
,
Curt Covey
,
Jean-François Créatux
,
Theresa Crimmins
,
Thomas Cropper
,
Molly Crotwell
,
Joshua Culpepper
,
Diego Cusicanqui
,
Sean M. Davis
,
Richard A. M. de Jeu
,
Doug Degenstein
,
Reynald Delaloye
,
Martin T. Dokulil
,
Markus G. Donat
,
Wouter A. Dorigo
,
Hilary A. Dugan
,
Imke Durre
,
Geoff Dutton
,
Gregory Duveiller
,
Thomas W. Estilow
,
Nicole Estrella
,
David Fereday
,
Vitali E. Fioletov
,
Johannes Flemming
,
Michael J. Foster
,
Bryan Franz
,
Stacey M. Frith
,
Lucien Froidevaux
,
Martin Füllekrug
,
Judith Garforth
,
Jay Garg
,
Badin Gibbes
,
Steven Goodman
,
Atsushi Goto
,
Alexander Gruber
,
Guojun Gu
,
Sebastian Hahn
,
Leopold Haimberger
,
Bradley D. Hall
,
Ian Harris
,
Deborah L. Hemming
,
Martin Hirschi
,
Shu-peng Ho
,
Robert Holzworth
,
Filip Hrbáček
,
Guojie Hu
,
Dale F. Hurst
,
Antje Inness
,
Ketil Isaksen
,
Viju O. John
,
Philip D. Jones
,
Robert Junod
,
Andreas Kääb
,
Johannes W. Kaiser
,
Viktor Kaufmann
,
Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer
,
Elizabeth C. Kent
,
Richard Kidd
,
Zak Kipling
,
Akash Koppa
,
Benjamin M. Kraemer
,
Natalya Kramarova
,
Andries Kruger
,
Sofia La Fuente
,
Alo Laas
,
Xin Lan
,
Timothy Lang
,
Kathleen O. Lantz
,
David A. Lavers
,
Thierry Leblanc
,
Eric M. Leibensperger
,
Chris Lennard
,
Yakun Liu
,
Norman G. Loeb
,
Diego Loyola
,
Stephen C. Maberly
,
Remi Madelon
,
Florence Magnin
,
Shin-Ichiro Matsuzaki
,
Linda May
,
Michael Mayer
,
Matthew F. McCabe
,
Tim R. McVicar
,
Carl A. Mears
,
Annette Menzel
,
Christopher J. Merchant
,
Michael F. Meyer
,
Diego G. Miralles
,
Leander Moesinger
,
Ghislaine Monet
,
Stephan A. Montzka
,
Colin Morice
,
Ivan Mrekaj
,
Jens Mühle
,
David Nance
,
Julien P. Nicolas
,
Jeannette Noetzli
,
Ben Noll
,
John O’Keefe
,
Timothy J. Osborn
,
Taejin Park
,
Mark Parrington
,
Cécile Pellet
,
Mauri S. Pelto
,
Kyle Petersen
,
Coda Phillips
,
Don Pierson
,
Izidine Pinto
,
Stephen Po-Chedley
,
Paolo Pogliotti
,
Lorenzo Polvani
,
Wolfgang Preimesberger
,
Colin Price
,
Merja Pulkkanen
,
William J. Randel
,
Samuel Rémy
,
Lucrezia Ricciardulli
,
Andrew D. Richardson
,
David A. Robinson
,
Willy Rocha
,
Matthew Rodell
,
Nemesio Rodriguez-Fernandez
,
Karen H. Rosenlof
,
Alexei Rozanov
,
Jozef Rozkošný
,
Olga O. Rusanovskaya
,
This Rutishauser
,
C. T. Sabeerali
,
Ahira Sánchez-Lugo
,
Parnchai Sawaengphokhai
,
Verena Schenzinger
,
Robert W. Schlegel
,
Martin Schmid
,
Udo Schneider
,
Fumi Sezaki
,
Sapna Sharma
,
Lei Shi
,
Svetlana V. Shimaraeva
,
Eugene A. Silow
,
Adrian J. Simmons
,
Sharon L. Smith
,
Brian J. Soden
,
Viktoria Sofieva
,
Tim H. Sparks
,
O.P. Sreejith
,
Paul W. Stackhouse Jr.
,
Ryan Stauffer
,
Wolfgang Steinbrecht
,
Andrea K. Steiner
,
Pietro Stradiotti
,
Dmitry A. Streletskiy
,
Divya E. Surendran
,
Stephen J. Thackeray
,
Emmanuel Thibert
,
Maxim A. Timofeyev
,
Kleareti Tourpali
,
Mari R. Tye
,
Ronald van der A
,
Robin van der Schalie
,
Gerard van der Schrier
,
Arnold J.H. van Vliet
,
Piet Verburg
,
Jean-Paul Vernier
,
Isaac J. Vimont
,
Katrina Virts
,
Sebastián Vivero
,
Holger Vömel
,
Russell S. Vose
,
Ray H. J. Wang
,
Xinyue Wang
,
Taran Warnock
,
Mark Weber
,
David N. Wiese
,
Jeannette D. Wild
,
Earle Williams
,
Takmeng Wong
,
Richard Iestyn Woolway
,
Xungang Yin
,
Zhenzhong Zeng
,
Lin Zhao
,
Xinjia Zhou
,
Jerry R. Ziemke
,
Markus Ziese
,
Ruxandra M. Zotta
,
Cheng-Zhi Zou
,
Jessicca Allen
,
Amy V. Camper
,
Bridgette O. Haley
,
Gregory Hammer
,
S. Elizabeth Love-Brotak
,
Laura Ohlmann
,
Lukas Noguchi
,
Deborah B. Riddle
, and
Sara W. Veasey
Open access
Tim Boyer
,
Ellen Bartow-Gillies
,
A. Abida
,
Melanie Ades
,
Robert Adler
,
Susheel Adusumilli
,
W. Agyakwah
,
Brandon Ahmasuk
,
Laura S. Aldeco
,
Mihai Alexe
,
Eric J. Alfaro
,
Richard P. Allan
,
Adam Allgood
,
Lincoln. M. Alves
,
Jorge A. Amador
,
John Anderson
,
B. Andrade
,
Orlane Anneville
,
Yasuyuki Aono
,
Anthony Arguez
,
Carlo Arosio
,
C. Atkinson
,
John A. Augustine
,
Grinia Avalos
,
Cesar Azorin-Molina
,
Stacia A. Backensto
,
Stephan Bader
,
Julian Baez
,
Rebecca Baiman
,
Thomas J. Ballinger
,
Alison F. Banwell
,
M. Yu Bardin
,
Jonathan Barichivich
,
John E. Barnes
,
Sandra Barreira
,
Rebecca L. Beadling
,
Hylke E. Beck
,
Emily J. Becker
,
E. Bekele
,
Guillem Martín Bellido
,
Nicolas Bellouin
,
Angela Benedetti
,
Rasmus Benestad
,
Christine Berne
,
Logan. T. Berner
,
Germar H. Bernhard
,
Uma S. Bhatt
,
A. E. Bhuiyan
,
Siiri Bigalke
,
Tiago Biló
,
Peter Bissolli
,
W. Bjerke Jarle
,
Kevin Blagrave
,
Eric S. Blake
,
Stephen Blenkinsop
,
Jessica Blunden
,
Oliver Bochníček
,
Olivier Bock
,
Xavier Bodin
,
Michael Bosilovich
,
Olivier Boucher
,
Deniz Bozkurt
,
Brian Brettschneider
,
Francis G. Bringas
,
Francis Bringas
,
Dennis Buechler
,
Stefan A. Buehler
,
Brandon Bukunt
,
Blanca Calderón
,
Suzana J. Camargo
,
Jayaka Campbell
,
Diego Campos
,
Laura Carrea
,
Brendan R. Carter
,
Ivona Cetinić
,
Don P. Chambers
,
Duo Chan
,
Elise Chandler
,
Kai-Lan Chang
,
Hua Chen
,
Lin Chen
,
Lijing Cheng
,
Vincent Y. S. Cheng
,
Leah Chomiak
,
Hanne H. Christiansen
,
John R. Christy
,
Eui-Seok Chung
,
Laura M. Ciasto
,
Leonardo Clarke
,
Kyle R. Clem
,
Scott Clingan
,
Caio A.S. Coelho
,
Judah L. Cohen
,
Melanie Coldewey-Egbers
,
Steve Colwell
,
Owen R. Cooper
,
Richard C. Cornes
,
Kris Correa
,
Felipe Costa
,
Curt Covey
,
Lawrence Coy
,
Jean-François Créatux
,
Lenka Crhova
,
Theresa Crimmins
,
Meghan F. Cronin
,
Thomas Cropper
,
Molly Crotwell
,
Joshua Culpepper
,
Ana P. Cunha
,
Diego Cusicanqui
,
Rajashree T. Datta
,
Sean M. Davis
,
Veerle De Bock
,
Richard A. M. de Jeu
,
Jos De Laat
,
Bertrand Decharme
,
Doug Degenstein
,
Reynald Delaloye
,
Mesut Demircan
,
Chris Derksen
,
Ricardo Deus
,
K. R. Dhurmea
,
Howard J. Diamond
,
S. Dirkse
,
Dmitry Divine
,
Martin T. Dokulil
,
Markus G. Donat
,
Shenfu Dong
,
Wouter A. Dorigo
,
Caroline Drost Jensen
,
Matthew L. Druckenmiller
,
Paula Drumond
,
Marcel du Plessis
,
Hilary A. Dugan
,
Dashkhuu Dulamsuren
,
Devon Dunmire
,
Robert J. H. Dunn
,
Imke Durre
,
Geoff Dutton
,
Gregory Duveiller
,
Mithat Ekici
,
Alesksandra Elias Chereque
,
M. ElKharrim
,
Howard E. Epstein
,
Jhan-Carlo Espinoza
,
Thomas W. Estilow
,
Nicole Estrella
,
Nicolas Fauchereau
,
Robert S. Fausto
,
Richard A. Feely
,
Chris Fenimore
,
David Fereday
,
Xavier Fettweis
,
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Abstract

—J. BLUNDEN, T. BOYER, AND E. BARTOW-GILLIES

Earth’s global climate system is vast, complex, and intricately interrelated. Many areas are influenced by global-scale phenomena, including the “triple dip” La Niña conditions that prevailed in the eastern Pacific Ocean nearly continuously from mid-2020 through all of 2022; by regional phenomena such as the positive winter and summer North Atlantic Oscillation that impacted weather in parts the Northern Hemisphere and the negative Indian Ocean dipole that impacted weather in parts of the Southern Hemisphere; and by more localized systems such as high-pressure heat domes that caused extreme heat in different areas of the world. Underlying all these natural short-term variabilities are long-term climate trends due to continuous increases since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the atmospheric concentrations of Earth’s major greenhouse gases.

In 2022, the annual global average carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere rose to 417.1±0.1 ppm, which is 50% greater than the pre-industrial level. Global mean tropospheric methane abundance was 165% higher than its pre-industrial level, and nitrous oxide was 24% higher. All three gases set new record-high atmospheric concentration levels in 2022.

Sea-surface temperature patterns in the tropical Pacific characteristic of La Niña and attendant atmospheric patterns tend to mitigate atmospheric heat gain at the global scale, but the annual global surface temperature across land and oceans was still among the six highest in records dating as far back as the mid-1800s. It was the warmest La Niña year on record. Many areas observed record or near-record heat. Europe as a whole observed its second-warmest year on record, with sixteen individual countries observing record warmth at the national scale. Records were shattered across the continent during the summer months as heatwaves plagued the region. On 18 July, 104 stations in France broke their all-time records. One day later, England recorded a temperature of 40°C for the first time ever. China experienced its second-warmest year and warmest summer on record. In the Southern Hemisphere, the average temperature across New Zealand reached a record high for the second year in a row. While Australia’s annual temperature was slightly below the 1991–2020 average, Onslow Airport in Western Australia reached 50.7°C on 13 January, equaling Australia's highest temperature on record.

While fewer in number and locations than record-high temperatures, record cold was also observed during the year. Southern Africa had its coldest August on record, with minimum temperatures as much as 5°C below normal over Angola, western Zambia, and northern Namibia. Cold outbreaks in the first half of December led to many record-low daily minimum temperature records in eastern Australia.

The effects of rising temperatures and extreme heat were apparent across the Northern Hemisphere, where snow-cover extent by June 2022 was the third smallest in the 56-year record, and the seasonal duration of lake ice cover was the fourth shortest since 1980. More frequent and intense heatwaves contributed to the second-greatest average mass balance loss for Alpine glaciers around the world since the start of the record in 1970. Glaciers in the Swiss Alps lost a record 6% of their volume. In South America, the combination of drought and heat left many central Andean glaciers snow free by mid-summer in early 2022; glacial ice has a much lower albedo than snow, leading to accelerated heating of the glacier. Across the global cryosphere, permafrost temperatures continued to reach record highs at many high-latitude and mountain locations.

In the high northern latitudes, the annual surface-air temperature across the Arctic was the fifth highest in the 123-year record. The seasonal Arctic minimum sea-ice extent, typically reached in September, was the 11th-smallest in the 43-year record; however, the amount of multiyear ice—ice that survives at least one summer melt season—remaining in the Arctic continued to decline. Since 2012, the Arctic has been nearly devoid of ice more than four years old.

In Antarctica, an unusually large amount of snow and ice fell over the continent in 2022 due to several landfalling atmospheric rivers, which contributed to the highest annual surface mass balance, 15% to 16% above the 1991–2020 normal, since the start of two reanalyses records dating to 1980. It was the second-warmest year on record for all five of the long-term staffed weather stations on the Antarctic Peninsula. In East Antarctica, a heatwave event led to a new all-time record-high temperature of −9.4°C—44°C above the March average—on 18 March at Dome C. This was followed by the collapse of the critically unstable Conger Ice Shelf. More than 100 daily low sea-ice extent and sea-ice area records were set in 2022, including two new all-time annual record lows in net sea-ice extent and area in February.

Across the world’s oceans, global mean sea level was record high for the 11th consecutive year, reaching 101.2 mm above the 1993 average when satellite altimetry measurements began, an increase of 3.3±0.7 over 2021. Globally-averaged ocean heat content was also record high in 2022, while the global sea-surface temperature was the sixth highest on record, equal with 2018. Approximately 58% of the ocean surface experienced at least one marine heatwave in 2022. In the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand’s longest continuous marine heatwave was recorded.

A total of 85 named tropical storms were observed during the Northern and Southern Hemisphere storm seasons, close to the 1991–2020 average of 87. There were three Category 5 tropical cyclones across the globe—two in the western North Pacific and one in the North Atlantic. This was the fewest Category 5 storms globally since 2017. Globally, the accumulated cyclone energy was the lowest since reliable records began in 1981. Regardless, some storms caused massive damage. In the North Atlantic, Hurricane Fiona became the most intense and most destructive tropical or post-tropical cyclone in Atlantic Canada’s history, while major Hurricane Ian killed more than 100 people and became the third costliest disaster in the United States, causing damage estimated at $113 billion U.S. dollars. In the South Indian Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Batsirai dropped 2044 mm of rain at Commerson Crater in Réunion. The storm also impacted Madagascar, where 121 fatalities were reported.

As is typical, some areas around the world were notably dry in 2022 and some were notably wet. In August, record high areas of land across the globe (6.2%) were experiencing extreme drought. Overall, 29% of land experienced moderate or worse categories of drought during the year. The largest drought footprint in the contiguous United States since 2012 (63%) was observed in late October. The record-breaking megadrought of central Chile continued in its 13th consecutive year, and 80-year record-low river levels in northern Argentina and Paraguay disrupted fluvial transport. In China, the Yangtze River reached record-low values. Much of equatorial eastern Africa had five consecutive below-normal rainy seasons by the end of 2022, with some areas receiving record-low precipitation totals for the year. This ongoing 2.5-year drought is the most extensive and persistent drought event in decades, and led to crop failure, millions of livestock deaths, water scarcity, and inflated prices for staple food items.

In South Asia, Pakistan received around three times its normal volume of monsoon precipitation in August, with some regions receiving up to eight times their expected monthly totals. Resulting floods affected over 30 million people, caused over 1700 fatalities, led to major crop and property losses, and was recorded as one of the world’s costliest natural disasters of all time. Near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Petrópolis received 530 mm in 24 hours on 15 February, about 2.5 times the monthly February average, leading to the worst disaster in the city since 1931 with over 230 fatalities.

On 14–15 January, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai submarine volcano in the South Pacific erupted multiple times. The injection of water into the atmosphere was unprecedented in both magnitude—far exceeding any previous values in the 17-year satellite record—and altitude as it penetrated into the mesosphere. The amount of water injected into the stratosphere is estimated to be 146±5 Terragrams, or ∼10% of the total amount in the stratosphere. It may take several years for the water plume to dissipate, and it is currently unknown whether this eruption will have any long-term climate effect.

Open access