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