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Contrasting Convective Regimes Over the Amazon: Implications for Cloud Electrification

Four distinct meteorological regimes in the Amazon basin have been examined to distinguish the contributions from boundary layer aerosol and convective available potential energy (CAPE) to continental cloud structure and electrification. The lack of distinction in the electrical parameters (peak flash rate, lightning yield per unit rainfall) between aerosol-rich October and aerosol-poor November in the premonsoon regime casts doubt on a primary role for the aerosol in enhancing cloud electrification. Evidence for a substantial role for the aerosol in suppressing warm rain coalescence is identified in the most highly polluted period in early October. The electrical activity in this stage is qualitatively peculiar. During the easterly and westerly wind regimes of the wet season, the lightning yield per unit of rainfall is positively correlated with the aerosol concentration, but the electrical parameters are also correlated with CAPE, with a similar degree of scatter. Here cause and effect are difficult to establish with available observations. This ambiguity extends to the “green ocean” westerly regime, a distinctly maritime regime over a major continent with minimum aerosol concentration, minimum CAPE, and little if any lightning.

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Williams, E. and 32 Co-authors, (2002): Contrasting Convective Regimes Over the Amazon: Implications for Cloud Electrification, J. Geophys. Res., 107, 8082, doi:10.1029/2001JD000380