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Laura Feudale and Agostino Manzato


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.

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Adrian M. Tompkins and Laura Feudale


The West Africa monsoon precipitation of the ECMWF operational Seasonal Forecast System (SYS3) is evaluated at a lead time of 2–4 months in a 49-yr hindcast dataset, with special attention paid to the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) special observation period during 2006. In both the climatology and the year 2006 the SYS3 reproduces the progression of the West Africa monsoon but with a number of differences, most notably a southerly shift of the precipitation in the main monsoon months of July and August and the lack of preonset rainfall suppression and sudden onset jump. The model skill at predicting summer monsoon rainfall anomalies has increased in recent years indicating improvements in the ocean analysis since the 1990s.

Examination of other model fields shows a widespread warm sea surface temperature (SST) bias exceeding 1.5 K in the Gulf of Guinea throughout the monsoon months in addition to a cold bias in the North Atlantic, which would both tend to enhance rainfall over the Gulf of Guinea coast at the expense of the monsoon rainfall over the Sahel. Seasonal forecasts were repeated for 2006 using the same release of the atmospheric forecast model forced by observed SSTs, and the monsoon rainfall reverts to its observed position, indicating the importance of the SST biases.

A lack of stratocumulus off the west coast of Africa in SYS3 was hypothesized as a possible cause of the systematic rain and SST biases. Two more sets of ensembles were thus conducted with atmospheric model upgrades designed to tackle radiation, deep convection, and turbulence deficiencies. While these enhancements improve the simulation of stratocumulus significantly, it is found that the improvement in the warm SST bias is limited in scope to the southern cold tongue region. In contrast, the changes to the representation of convection cause an increase in surface downwelling shortwave radiation that, combined with latent heat flux changes associated with the wind stress field, increases the SST warm bias on and to the north of the equator. Thus, while the precipitation shortfall in the Sahel is reduced with the new physics, the overestimated rainfall of SYS3 in the coastal region is further enhanced, degrading the model systematic errors overall in the West Africa region. Finally, the difference in the systematic biases between the coupled and uncoupled systems was noted to be an impediment to the development of seamless forecasting systems.

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Fred Kucharski, Franco Molteni, Martin P. King, Riccardo Farneti, In-Sik Kang, and Laura Feudale
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