Review article: A comprehensive review of datasets and methodologies employed to produce thunderstorm climatologies

Leah Hayward (Lead Author), Malcolm Whitworth, Nick Pepin, Stephen Dorling

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Thunderstorm and lightning climatological research is conducted with a view to increasing knowledge about the distribution of thunderstorm-related hazards and to gain an understanding of environmental factors increasing or decreasing their frequency. There are three main methodologies used in the construction of thunderstorm climatologies: Thunderstorm frequency, thunderstorm tracking or lightning flash density. These approaches utilise a wide variety of underpinning datasets and employ many different methods ranging from correlations with potential influencing factors and mapping the distribution of thunderstorm day frequencies to tracking individual thunderstorm cell movements. Meanwhile, lightning flash density climatologies are produced using lightning data alone, and these studies therefore follow a more standardised format. Whilst lightning flash density climatologies are primarily concerned with the occurrence of cloud-To-ground lightning, the occurrence of any form of lightning confirms the presence of a thunderstorm and can therefore be used in the compilation of a thunderstorm climatology. Regardless of approach, the choice of analysis method is heavily influenced by the coverage and quality (detection efficiency and location accuracy) of available datasets as well as by the controlling factors which are under investigation. The issues investigated must also reflect the needs of the end-use application to ensure that the results can be used effectively to reduce exposure to hazard, improve forecasting or enhance climatological understanding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2463-2482
Number of pages20
JournalNatural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2020

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