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Scientists think 2020 lockdowns may have caused less lightning

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Scientists think 2020 lockdowns may have caused less lightning

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Scientists have speculated that COVID-19 lockdowns may have helped reduce the amount of lightning produced in the atmosphere in 2020, according to a recent study.

A study presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meeting analyzed atmospheric factors that may have contributed to reductions of 10-20%, depending on how lightning is counted.

This is a combination of five consecutive 30-second exposures. The view crosses the beach and the Gulf of Mexico from Anna Maria Island, Florida.

Earle Williams, a physical meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and presenting author, said the team used three different methods to measure the lightning, but all methods indicated reduced activity.

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The study focused on aerosol optical depth (AOD), which measures particles produced by burning fossil fuels. These particles can act to accelerate and enhance water vapor collection and cloud formation.

Scientists think 2020 lockdowns may have caused less lightning

 | Local News

Thunder, lightning and rain during summer storm.
(Stock)

More particles absorb more moisture, limiting the amount of rain and creating small ice crystals that collide in the cloud and accumulate the charges that typically create lightning. The study compared lightning activity and aerosol levels between March and May 2020 to the same period from 2018 to 2021.

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The AGU noted that the lightning reduction was generally consistent with aerosol particle reductions in the same regions of Africa, Europe and Asia. The study noted smaller reductions over much of the Americas.

Scientists think 2020 lockdowns may have caused less lightning

 | Local News

New York, NY, USA – April 6, 2020: A man wearing a protective mask crosses 6th Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan deserted due to the city’s lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Stock)

Areas with larger decreases in aerosols had similar larger reductions in lightning activity.

Aerosol reduction appears to have had a number of related effects.

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A study published late last year found that reducing air pollution may also have led to fewer heart attacks. The researchers found the average daily concentration of particles measured below 2.5 micrometers in diameter – the limit at which doctors say pollutants can contribute to an increased risk of myocardial infarction, the most serious form of heart attack.

Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.

Scientists think 2020 lockdowns may have caused less lightning

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