Lightning in the North Pole alarms scientists
Lightning - a phenomenon of tropical regions - has become an occurrence in the North Pole, indicating the worsening effects of climate change.
In 2021, a significant increase in lightning in the North Pole was observed, indicating a sign (and alarming scientists) of how the climate crisis is influencing the weather around the world.
Vaisala reported 7,278 lightning strikes in the North Pole in 2021, which is almost double the number of those which were recorded in the last 9 years combined. Vaisala is a Finnish company which tracks lightning around the world.
This is a rare phenomenon in the northern region, proving that the numbers are a strong indicator of how the crisis is developing: temperatures are rising in the Arctic region, as lightning needs convective heat, an unstable atmosphere, warm and moist air. Lightning is a phenomenon of tropical regions, but now it's occurring in the Arctic.
As the ice caps melt, more water was evaporating, which results in an increase in the atsmopheric moisture, leading to more lightning. Temperatures in the Arctic have trippled the global average. Mixing that with an unstable atmosphere, the increase in lightning is explained.
This is worrying to the scientists
Chris Vagasy, Vaisala's meteorologist and lightning applications manager, has expressed his worries over the findings, “Over the last 10 years, overall lightning counts north of the Arctic Circle have been fairly consistent,” he said. “But at the highest latitudes of the planet – north of 80° – the increase has been drastic. Such a significant shift certainly causes you to raise your eyebrows.”
He added, “Changes in the Arctic can mean changes in the weather at home. All weather is local, but what happens at your house depends on how the atmosphere is behaving elsewhere throughout the world. Changes to conditions in the Arctic could cause more extreme cold outbreaks, more heatwaves, or extreme changes in precipitation to Europe.”
Although there isn't much risk of getting struck by lightning in the Arctic, the forthcoming weather conditions would still threaten communities which have not had much exposure to such weather.
In the US, there has been 24 million more lightning strikes in 2021 than the year before. Some of the wildfires experienced recently are caused by lightning.
Vagasky contended that climate change could increase the frequency of wildfires caused by lightning.