Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 2817-2852, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
High lightning activity in maritime clouds near Mexico
B. Kucienska, G. B. Raga, and R. Romero-Centeno
Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Circuito Exterior s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 México

Abstract. Lightning activity detected by the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) over oceanic regions adjacent to Mexico is often as high as that observed over the continent. In order to explore the possible cause of the observed high flash density over those regions, the relationships between lightning, rainfall, vertical hydrometeor profiles, latent heating, wind variability and aerosol optical thickness are analyzed. The characteristics of lightning and precipitation over four oceanic zones adjacent to Mexican coastlines are contrasted against those over the continent. In addition, we compare two smaller regions over the Tropical Pacific Ocean: one located within the Inter-Tropical Converge Zone and characterized by high rainfall and weak lightning activity and the other influenced by a continental jet and presenting high rainfall and strong lightning activity over the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Maritime precipitating clouds that develop within the region influenced by offshore winds exhibit similar properties to continental clouds: large content of precipitation ice and an increased height range of coexistence of precipitation ice and cloud water. During the rainy season, monthly distribution of lightning within the region influenced by the continental jet is contrary to that of rainfall. Moreover, the monthly variability of lightning is very similar to the variability of the meridional wind component and it is also related to the variability of aerosol optical depth. The analysis strongly suggests that the high lightning activity observed over the Gulf of Tehuantepec is caused by continental cloud condensation nuclei advected over the ocean.

Citation: Kucienska, B., Raga, G. B., and Romero-Centeno, R.: High lightning activity in maritime clouds near Mexico, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 2817-2852, doi:10.5194/acpd-12-2817-2012, 2012.
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