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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 16, issue 6 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 1465-1472, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-1465-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 21 Jun 2016

Research article | 21 Jun 2016

Global distribution of winter lightning: a threat to wind turbines and aircraft

Joan Montanyà1, Ferran Fabró1, Oscar van der Velde1, Víctor March2, Earle Rolfe Williams3, Nicolau Pineda4, David Romero1, Glòria Solà1, and Modesto Freijo1 Joan Montanyà et al.
  • 1Department of Electrical Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Terrassa (Barcelona), 08222, Spain
  • 2Gamesa Innovation & Technology, Sarriguren (Navarra), Spain
  • 3Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • 4Meteorological Service of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain

Abstract. Lightning is one of the major threats to multi-megawatt wind turbines and a concern for modern aircraft due to the use of lightweight composite materials. Both wind turbines and aircraft can initiate lightning, and very favorable conditions for lightning initiation occur in winter thunderstorms. Moreover, winter thunderstorms are characterized by a relatively high production of very energetic lightning. This paper reviews the different types of lightning interactions and summarizes the well-known winter thunderstorm areas. Until now comprehensive maps of global distribution of winter lightning prevalence to be used for risk assessment have been unavailable. In this paper we present the global winter lightning activity for a period of 5 years. Using lightning location data and meteorological re-analysis data, six maps are created: annual winter lightning stroke density, seasonal variation of the winter lightning and the annual number of winter thunderstorm days. In the Northern Hemisphere, the maps confirmed Japan to be one of the most active regions but other areas such as the Mediterranean and the USA are active as well. In the Southern Hemisphere, Uruguay and surrounding area, the southwestern Indian Ocean and the Tasman Sea experience the highest activity. The maps provided here can be used in the development of a risk assessment.

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Lightning is one of the major threats to modern multi-megawatt wind turbines and a concern for new generation of aircraft. Both wind turbines and aircraft can initiate lightning and very favourable conditions for lightning initiation occur in winter thunderstorms. Moreover, winter thunderstorms are characterized for producing very energetic lightning. In this paper we present the global winter lightning activity. Japan, US, Mediterranean, Argentina and New Zealand are the most active areas.
Lightning is one of the major threats to modern multi-megawatt wind turbines and a concern for...
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