With the region around the North Pole heating up much faster than any other area of the planet due to climate change, atmospheric and space physicists from the University of Washington say the amount of lightning in the Arctic has grown by more than 300% during the past 11 years. They made the conclusion by looking at data from the World Wide Lightning Location Network.
While the scientists say they have no proof of a link between the warming and lightning increase, it is well known that the Arctic has typically been far too cold in the past to support the kind of updrafts that create thunderstorms and the accompanying lightning.
A U.S. research satellite detected a record-low temperature for the planet, which occurred atop a supercharged thunderstorm in the tropical Pacific just over three years ago.
Sensors aboard the NOAA-20 spacecraft found the temperature in an “overshooting top” of a soaring cumulonimbus cloud plunged to -168 degrees F.
While overshooting tops are common in thunderstorms, intense updrafts inside a thunderhead on Dec. 29, 2018, about 300 miles south of Naura Island in Micronesia, sent the top of the cloud punching into the lower stratosphere. This was in part due to the very warm ocean waters below. Such intense storms have become more frequent.