Modeling the flash rate of thunderstorms. Part II: Implementation

Johannes M.L. Dahl, Hartmut Höller, Ulrich Schumann

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15 Scopus citations


In Part I of this two-part paper a new method of predicting the total lightning flash rate in thunderstorms was introduced. In this paper, the implementation of this method into the convection-permitting Consortium for Small Scale Modeling (COSMO) model is presented. The new approach is based on a simple theoretical model that consists of a dipole charge structure, which is maintained by a generator current and discharged by lightning and, to a small extent, by a leakage current. This approach yields a set of four predictor variables, which are not amenable to direct observations and consequently need to be parameterized (Part I). Using an algorithm that identifies thunderstorm cells and their properties, this approach is applied to determine the flash frequency of every thunderstorm cell in the model domain. With this information, the number of flashes that are accumulated by each cell and during the interval between the activation of the lightning scheme can be calculated. These flashes are then randomly distributed in time and beneath each cell. The output contains the longitude, the latitude, and the time of occurrence of each simulated discharge. Simulations of real-world scenarios are presented, which are compared to measurements with the lightning detection network, LINET. These comparisons are done on the cloud scale as well as in a mesoscale region composing southern Germany (two cases each). The flash rates of individual cumulonimbus clouds at the extreme ends of the intensity spectrum are realistically simulated. The simulated overall lightning activity over southern Germany is dominated by spatiotemporal displacements of the modeled convective clouds, although the scheme generally reproduces realistic patterns such as coherent lightning swaths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3112-3124
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Convective clouds
  • Lightning
  • Mesoscale models
  • Numerical weather prediction/forecasting
  • Thunderstorms


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