Lightning response to smoke from Amazonian fires

Orit Altaratz, Ilan Koren, Yoav Yair, Colin Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of anthropogenic aerosols on clouds has the potential to be a key component for climate change predictions, yet is one of the least understood. It is possible that high aerosol loading can change the convection intensity and hence the electrical activity of thunderstorm clouds. Focusing on the Amazon dry season, where thousands of man-made forest fires inject smoke into the atmosphere, we studied the aerosol effects on thunderclouds. We used the ground-based World-Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) lightning measurements together with Aqua-MODIS aerosol and cloud data to show evidence for the transition between two opposing effects of aerosols on clouds. The first is the microphysical effect which is manifested in an increase in convective intensity (and electrical activity), followed by the radiative effect that becomes dominant with the increase in aerosol loading leading to a decrease in convective intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL07801
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2010


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