Physical and observable characteristics of cloud-to-ground lightning over the Pearl River Delta region of South China



Cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning characteristic parameters deduced from the lightning location system (LLS) for five differing microenvironmental areas relative to megacity, city, municipal town, hilly suburban area, and mountainous rural area conditions were examined in our 2009–2011 Pearl River Delta (PRD) study. Our LLS data analysis showed that there were high variation of lightning characteristics and phenomenal changes among these areas. As a supplement to the usual study of physical characteristics, an observation-based methodology had been developed to study the lightning behavior, while the respective thunderstorms were traversing through these observation areas. Special features and phenomenal changes related to the lightning characteristic parameters, such as observable lightning stroke days (OLSDs) and observable lightning stroke frequency and density for an OLSD, were also addressed. Microenvironmental variation due to change in topography, degree of urbanization, urban effect, and thunderstorm strength was found to affect the spatial distribution of lightning stroke and the severity of lightning activities over the observation areas. This approach increases our understanding of lightning in subtropical China. It also tells us more about the behavior of lightning while the thunderstorm traverses through an observation area. This information is lacking in previous studies.