Impact of the 1997–98 El Niño Event on lightning activity over Indonesia



The 1997–98 El Niño was one of the strongest El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events of this century. The major impact of the sea surface temperature (SST) change during this El Niño event was the shift in convection activity from the western to the central and eastern Pacific ocean affecting the response of rain-producing cumulonimbus. As a result, convective rainfalls were suppressed near the Western Pacific regions and the Maritime Continent including Indonesia. On the other hand, the lightning activity during the El Niño period increased in contrast (on the average by 57%). As observed by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Lightning Imaging Sensor and Precipitation Radar, the convective storms during the El Niño were more intense. This was supported by the evidence that the El Niño storms had greater vertical developments and thicker zones containing ice phase precipitation.