A spatial analysis of lightning strikes and precipitation in the greater Atlanta, Georgia (USA) region
This study examines patterns of cloud-to-ground flash enhancement and precipitation for the greater Atlanta, Georgia region. Previous research documented greater annual average flash densities (6 to 8 km-2/yr), and more flash days northeast of the city. Precipitation enhancement has also been observed through the use of both ground-based gauge and spaceborne radar data. Using an approach based in cartographic visualization and GIS, a climatology is developed to identify and characterize possible causal mechanisms and variability in flash production. To delineate how prevailing winds contribute to this hotspot, lightning flashes were selected for weak forcing conditions during the summer months (May through September, 1995 through 2003). The steering winds for the events that lower flashes in the northeast hotspot were clustered according to wind speed and direction to isolate variability in flash production around the city. Flash events were coupled to rainfall data (NARR) to visualize associated precipitation production. The spatial patterning of precipitation and cloud-to-ground lightning enhancement around Atlanta is indicative of urban alteration of convective processes. Downwind areas of increased flash activity and precipitation accumulation shifted around the urban area in accordance with steering winds from several directions. This research demonstrates the need for contextual analysis of urban lightning and precipitation patterns that accounts for the variability of localized conditions.
0725: Atmospheric sciences