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Cargo ships may be causing more lightning - here's why

by Marshall Shepherd 15 Jul 2018 19:43 UTC
Ship tracks as revealed by clouds © NASA Earth Observatory

When my colleague Professor Tom Gill at University of Texas at El Paso alerted me to a recent study noting that cargo ships may be creating more lightning, my first reaction was that I wasn't surprised at all. Though this may be a surprising finding to many scientists and the public, I have been conducting research for over two decades on how cities affect rainfall, storms, and lightning. As I read the paper, it was apparent to me that some of the same physical processes were at play with the cargo ship - lightning relationships. So how does a cargo ship create lightning?

A study published in the American Geophysical Union journal, Geophysical Research Letters, examined 12 years of global lightning stroke data (2005 to 2016) from the World Wide Lightning Location Network. Their analysis revealed that the density of lightning doubled over shipping lanes in the South China Sea and northeastern Indian Ocean compared to nearby, similar regions.

To read more please go to the original article.

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