Remember, remember the fifth of November: was that thunder I heard or not?

Article English OPEN
Owens, M.J. (2016)

‘Thunder days’ are simple records of thunderstorm activity, logging whether a human observer heard thunder on a particular day or not. Despite their low dynamic range and inherent subjectivity, thunder days are invaluable as the only long-term observations of thunderstorm occurrence, with some records stretching back into the nineteenth century. Thunder days, however, are potentially susceptible to false positives, particularly from explosions. Thus one might expect UK thunder days to show anomalously high counts on New Year's Eve and the days around 5 November, Bonfire Night, both of which are celebrated with large firework displays across the country. It is demonstrated that UK Met Office records of thunder days between 1980 and 2010 do not show any significant increase in thunder reporting around 5 November or 31 December. In fact, the days around 5 November exhibit the largest reduction in the amount of reported thunder relative to annual climatology. While meteorological variability cannot be completely ruled out, this result is suggestive of observer bias; it is speculated that human observers, armed with a priori knowledge of the likelihood of false positives, ‘second guess’ themselves to a greater degree around 5 November than the rest of the year. In fact, the data suggest they should trust in their ability to correctly discriminate between thunder and fireworks.
  • References (18)
    18 references, page 1 of 2

    Brooks CEP. 1925. The Distribution of Thunderstorms Over the Globe. Her Majesty's Stationery Office: London.

    Changnon SA. 1985. Secular variations in thunder-day frequencies in the twentieth century. J. Geophys. Res. 90(D4): 6181-6194.

    Kitagawa N. 1989. Long-term variations in thunder-day frequencies in Japan.

    J. Geophys. Res. 94(D11): 13183-13189.

    Lewis RPW. 1991. Meteorological Glossary, 6th Edition. Her Majesty's Stationery Office: London.

    2014. Modulation of UK lightning by heliospheric magnetic field polarity. Environ.

    Res. Lett. 9(11): 115009.

    Perry M, Hollis D. 2005. The generation of monthly gridded datasets for a range of climatic variables over the UK. Int.

    J. Climatol. 25(8): 1041-1054.

    Pliske RM, Crandall B, Klein G. 2004.

  • Metrics
    0
    views in OpenAIRE
    0
    views in local repository
    20
    downloads in local repository

    The information is available from the following content providers:

    From Number Of Views Number Of Downloads
    Central Archive at the University of Reading - IRUS-UK 0 20
Share - Bookmark