Articles | Volume 14, issue 11
Research article
07 Nov 2014
Research article |  | 07 Nov 2014

Simulating lightning into the RAMS model: implementation and preliminary results

S. Federico, E. Avolio, M. Petracca, G. Panegrossi, P. Sanò, D. Casella, and S. Dietrich

Abstract. This paper shows the results of a tailored version of a previously published methodology, designed to simulate lightning activity, implemented into the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS).

The method gives the flash density at the resolution of the RAMS grid scale allowing for a detailed analysis of the evolution of simulated lightning activity.

The system is applied in detail to two case studies occurred over the Lazio Region, in Central Italy. Simulations are compared with the lightning activity detected by the LINET network. The cases refer to two thunderstorms of different intensity which occurred, respectively, on 20 October 2011 and on 15 October 2012.

The number of flashes simulated (observed) over Lazio is 19435 (16231) for the first case and 7012 (4820) for the second case, and the model correctly reproduces the larger number of flashes that characterized the 20 October 2011 event compared to the 15 October 2012 event.

There are, however, errors in timing and positioning of the convection, whose magnitude depends on the case study, which mirrors in timing and positioning errors of the lightning distribution. For the 20 October 2011 case study, spatial errors are of the order of a few tens of kilometres and the timing of the event is correctly simulated. For the 15 October 2012 case study, the spatial error in the positioning of the convection is of the order of 100 km and the event has a longer duration in the simulation than in the reality.

To assess objectively the performance of the methodology, standard scores are presented for four additional case studies. Scores show the ability of the methodology to simulate the daily lightning activity for different spatial scales and for two different minimum thresholds of flash number density. The performance decreases at finer spatial scales and for higher thresholds.

The comparison of simulated and observed lighting activity is an immediate and powerful tool to assess the model ability to reproduce the intensity and the evolution of the convection. This shows the importance of using computationally efficient lightning schemes, such as the one described in this paper, in forecast models.

Short summary
This paper shows the implementation of a simple model for simulating lightning into the RAMS model. The methodology is applied to six case studies that occurred in central Italy and the results are verified against LINET observations. Advantages and weaknesses of the methodology are discussed.
Final-revised paper