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A stochastic lightning-flash scheme for 3D explicitly resolving cloud models

Abstract : The paper presents a stochastic lightning-flash scheme designed for mesoscale cloud-resolving models (MCRMs). The lightning-flash scheme is implemented on-line in an MCRM. It is fully parallellized and vectorized. A lightning flash is schematized as two single conducting channels (single tracks) propagating in opposite directions from the lightning ignition point, and of branch patterns propagating from the single tracks. On the base of scale similarities between lightning flashes and discharges in dielectrics at centimetre scales, a stochastic scheme has been designed to compute branch trajectories. A fractal relationship is used to limit the branch number. Charge neutralization operates along the single tracks and branch trajectories to threshold the cloud charge density. The scheme has been implemented in the French meteorological community model M´esoNH. Two kinds of tests were designed to assess the scheme's capabilities. A first set consists of single-lightning simulations, which demonstrate that, thanks to branches, the simulated lightning flashes are (i) able to reach sparse electric charges and (ii) are fractal objects. The second set consists of comprehensive 3D-thundercloud life-cycle simulations. A simple non-inductive charging process is activated in order to assess the sensitivity of thundercloud electrical behaviour to lightning patterns. It is shown that, paradoxically, lightning flashes with quasi-plane branch propagations (i.e. fractal dimension close to 2) lead to more steady electrical behaviour than those completely filling volumes (i.e. fractal dimension close to 3).
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Contributor : Thierry Pellarin <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 3, 2009 - 3:06:46 PM
Last modification on : Monday, April 5, 2021 - 2:26:07 PM




Gilles Molinié, J. Escobar, D. Gazen. A stochastic lightning-flash scheme for 3D explicitly resolving cloud models. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Wiley, 2009, 135 (638), pp.113-124. ⟨10.1002/qj.364⟩. ⟨insu-00413225⟩



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