Diurnal patterns in lightning activity in northern tropical Africa

Shouraseni Sen Roy, Robert Balling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The study analyzes summertime lightning incidence data across northern tropical Africa from the TRMM satellite sensor during 1998-2011. It uses harmonic analyses to detect the spatial patterns in diurnal variations of lightning activity across the study area. The results are in conformity with previous studies examining diurnal patterns of convective weather processes in this region, with most lightning activity concentrated over land areas. The peak time of lightning activity over most of the study area was during late afternoon hours, from around 1700 to 1900 local standard time. The peak time of lightning activity was observed during early morning hours in some coastal areas, such as Cameroon, which can be a result of local-level convergence between the land and sea breeze. A general progression in the time of lightning activity from late afternoon to early evening hours was observed throughout the interior of the study area, which may be attributed to land-surface heating and associated mesoscale convective systems, and to upper-level circulation in the form of the African Easterly Jet Stream.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Geography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 21 2013


  • Convection
  • Lightning
  • TRMM
  • Tropical Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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