Menu

Environment Climate change is expected to increase by 50% the incidence of lightning in the Amazon

The Amazon is already the place with the highest number of electrical discharges in the country. (Reproduction/INPE-ELAT)

Marcela Leiros – from Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – The climate changes should increase in about 50% the occurrence of lightnings only in the Amazon, region that is already the place with the largest number of electric discharges in Brazil, until the end of the century. The researchers Osmar Pinto Junior and Iara Cardoso, of the Group of Atmospheric Electricity (Elat) of the National Institute of Spatial Research (Inpe), in the book “Brazil: world champion of lightnings”, point out that the increase will imply in the balance of the forest, telecommunications and even in the nets of energy.

The locality most affected by lightnings, in the whole country, is in Amazonas, more specifically in the surroundings of Manaus. According to the study, the Northeast region should also suffer an increase of 10%, besides the other Brazilian regions that will register an increase between 20% and 40% in the occurrence of lightnings. To make the projections, the scientists were based on the analyses of the 12 main global climate models.

The increase in the number of stormy days, per degree of increase in temperature in the Southern Hemisphere, is 35%. The temperature of the planet has increased by 1.18ºC since the end of the 19th century, with most of the increase concentrated after 1970, and the last seven years are the warmest ever recorded. 

The research shows that most of the lightning that hits the surface falls on tropical forests, and lightning is part of the dynamics of forests, as it influences the volume of biomass and the structure of forests. “All the models indicate the same trend: more heat and consequently more storms and lightning”, says Osmar Pinto Jr. to the newspaper O Globo.

Lightning

With frequent storms, the Amazon does not go more than three or four days without lightning. Satellite data analysis revealed an area of about 25 km², about 100 kilometers away from the capital of Amazonas, on the margins of Rio Negro, is the most affected locality in the whole country: this forest fragment is hit by lightning 250 days a year.

A survey made on Monday morning, 1st, at Elat’s “Lightning Map in Real Time”, shows that the above mentioned region, as well as other regions in Amazonas, present low to moderate electric activity.

Map of lightning in real time (Reproduction/ELAT)

Deaths

The increase in the lightning incidence directly impacts in the disconnections of transmission lines and energy distribution nets. Currently, the researchers estimate that 70% and 40% of these events, respectively, are caused by lightnings, and they alert that “damages will increase if accident prevention measures are not taken”. The same can happen with deaths – around 100 per year.

“Lightning can incinerate a tree, but the fire doesn’t spread, because the forest is very humid. The dead trees make room for others to grow. However, if more lightning strikes than the forest can support, this balance is broken.

Brazil

Brazil is the place in the world where lightning always strikes the same place more than once. With 70 million lightning strikes per year, it is the most affected country on Earth. With climate changes, this number will rise to an average of more than 100 million lightning strikes per year by the end of the century, according to experts.

The strength of lightning in the Country is registered in the official records of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which recognized as the longest lightning in the world the one that covered a horizontal distance of 709 kilometers, in Rio Grande do Sul, on October 31, 2018.

*with information from Infoglobo