Scientists stunned by rare Arctic lightning storms north of Alaska

 Scientists stunned by rare Arctic lightning storms north of Alaska

Meteorologists were stunned this week when three successive thunderstorms swept across the icy Arctic from Siberia to north of Alaska, unleashing lightning bolts in an unusual phenomenon that scientists say will become less rare with global warming.

“Forecasters hadn’t seen anything like that before,” said Ed Plumb, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Fairbanks, speaking about the storms that started on Saturday.

Typically, the air over the Arctic Ocean, especially when the water is covered with ice, lacks the convective heat needed to generate lightning storms.But as climate change warms the Arctic faster than the rest of the world, that’s changing, scientists say.

Episodes of summer lightning within the Arctic Circle have tripled since 2010, a trend directly tied to climate change and increasing loss of sea ice in the far north, scientists reported in a March study published in the journal Geophysical…

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