02 Jan 2023
02 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Weather and Climate Dynamics (WCD).

Thunderstorm Types in Europe

Deborah Morgenstern1,2, Isabell Stucke1,2, Georg J. Mayr1, Achim Zeileis2, and Thorsten Simon2,3 Deborah Morgenstern et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences (ACINN), University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Department of Statistics, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 3Department of Mathematics, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

Abstract. Lightning characteristics in all seasons are investigated across Europe because it is observed that lightning strikes to tall infrastructure have no or only a weak annual cycle whereas lightning in general has a pronounced annual cycle. Using cluster analysis on ERA5 reanalysis data and EUCLID lightning data, two major thunderstorm types are found: Wind-field thunderstorms characterized by increased wind speeds, strong updrafts, and high shear occurring mainly in winter. And mass-field thunderstorms characterized by increased mass-field variables such as large CAPE values, high dewpoint temperatures, and elevated isotherm heights, occurring mostly in summer. Several sub-types of these two main thunderstorm types exist. Using principal component analysis, four topographically distinct regions in Europe are identified that share similar thunderstorm characteristics: The mediterranean, alpine-central, continental, and coastal regions, respectively. Based on these results it is possible to differentiate lightning in different seasons without a static threshold or a seasonal criterion.

Deborah Morgenstern et al.

Status: open (until 19 Feb 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1453', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 Jan 2023 reply

Deborah Morgenstern et al.

Model code and software

Supplementary material: Thunderstorm Types in Europe Deborah Morgenstern, Isabell Stucke, Thorsten Simon, Georg J. Mayr, Achim Zeileis

Deborah Morgenstern et al.


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Short summary
Thunderstorms in Europe are described by two types. Mass-field thunderstorms that occur mostly in summer, over the mainland, and under similar meteorological conditions and wind-field thunderstorms that occur mostly in winter, over the sea, and under more diverse meteorological conditions. Our descriptions are independent of static thresholds and help to understand why thunderstorms in unfavorable seasons for lightning are a particular risk for tall infrastructure such as wind turbines.