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African Lightning and its Relation to Rainfall and Climate Change in a Convection‐Permitting Model

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ABSTRACT

Global climate models struggle to simulate both the convection and cloud ice fundamental to lightning formation. We use the first convection‐permitting, future climate simulations for the lightning hotspot of Africa, at the same time utilising an ice‐based lightning parametrisation. Both the model and observations show that lightning over Africa’s drier areas, as well as the moist Congo, have more lightning per rainfall than other regions. Contrary to results in the literature, the future projection shows little increase in total lightning (~107 flashes (or 2%) per degree warming). This is a consequence of increased stability reducing the number of lightning days, largely offsetting the increased graupel and updraught velocity driving an increase in lightning per lightning‐day. The next step is to establish if these results are robust across other models and, if combined with parametrised‐convection models, whether ensemble‐based information on the possible responses of lightning to climate change can be investigated.