• Landscape Control Of Thunderstorm Development In Interior Alaska

      Dissing, Dorte; Verbyla, David (2003)
      General Circulation Models suggest a future climate of warmer and possibly drier summers in the boreal forest region, which could change fire regimes in high latitudes. Thunderstorm development is a dominant factor in the continental boreal forest fire regime, through its influence as a fire starting mechanism. Global Climate Change research has identified the land-atmosphere interface as a vital area of a needed research in order to improve our predictions of climate change. This dissertation has focused on the development of thunderstorms and lightning strike activity in a boreal forest region in Interior Alaska and on how the underlying surface can influence their development. I have examined the distributions and correlations between lightning strikes, thunderclouds, thunderstorm indices (CAPE and LI), elevation, and vegetation variables in Alaska. The relationships were examined at scales ranging from the Interior region of the state to individual wildfire burn scars, and at temporal scales ranging from the annual to daily. The objective is to understand the influential factors and processes responsible for thunderstorm development in Alaska, such that we may produce well-founded predictions on future thunderstorm regimes caused by a changing climate. The scale-related studies of this dissertation show that both processes and important variables for development of thunderstorms and lightning activity vary within and between the scales. It appears that on the larger scales, the combined effects of boreal forest and elevation on increased lightning strike activity were more prevalent than at the smallest scale (local). When the scale gets too small for the boundary layer to be affected (<10km), land surface effects on lightning cannot be. My results suggest that the underlying surface (in the form of areal forest coverage and vegetation) has more of an influence on convective development on days with airmass storms than on days with synoptic storms.