Land use and land cover (LULC) play a crucial role in the interaction between the land and atmosphere, influencing climate at local, regional, and global scales. LULC change due to urbanization has significant impacts on local weather and climate. Land-cover changes associated with urbanization create higher air temperatures compared to the surrounding rural area, known as the “urban heat island (UHI)” effect. Urban landscapes also affect formation of convective storms. In recent years, the effect of urbanization on local convections and lightning has been studied very extensively. In this paper a long-term study has been carried out taking cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning data (1998–2012) from Tai-Power Company, and particulate matter (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2
) data (2003–2012) from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) of Taiwan, in order to investigate the influence of LULC change through urbanization on CG lightning activity over Taipei taking into account in situ data of population growth, land use change and mean surface temperature (1965–2010). The thermal band of the Land-Sat 7 satellite was used to generate the apparent surface temperature of New Taipei City. It was observed that an enhancement of 60–70% in the flash density over the urban areas compared to their surroundings. The spatial distribution of the CG lightning flashes follows closely the shape of the Taipei city heat island, thereby supporting the thermal hypothesis. The PM10 and SO2
concentrations showed a positive linear correlation with the number of cloud-to-ground flashes, supporting the aerosol hypothesis. These results indicate that both hypotheses should be considered to explain the CG lightning enhancements over the urban areas. The results obtained are significant and interesting and have been explained from the thermodynamic point of view.
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