Lightning prediction for Australia using multivariate analyses of large-scale atmospheric variables

Bryson C. Bates, Andrew J. Dowdy, Richard E. Chandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Lightning is a natural hazard that can lead to the ignition of wildfires, disruption and damage to power and telecommunication infrastructures, human and livestock injuries and fatalities, and disruption to airport activities. This paper examines the ability of six statistical and machine-learning classification techniques to distinguish between nonlightning and lightning days at the coarse spatial and temporal scales of current general circulation models and reanalyses. The classification techniques considered were 1) a combination of principal component analysis and logistic regression, 2) classification and regression trees, 3) random forests, 4) linear discriminant analysis, 5) quadratic discriminant analysis, and 6) logistic regression. Lightning-flash counts at six locations across Australia for 2004-13 were used, together with atmospheric variables from the ERA-Interim dataset. Tenfold cross validation was used to evaluate classification performance. It was found that logistic regression was superior to the other classifiers considered and that its prediction skill is much better than using climatological values. The sets of atmospheric variables included in the final logistic-regression models were primarily composed of spatial mean measures of instability and lifting potential, along with atmospheric water content. The memberships of these sets varied among climatic zones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-534
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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