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Why are lightning strikes increasing in Kolkata? Listen to scientists

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In the wake of heart-wrenching lighting deaths of a father at Victoria Memorial, GB delves into the scientific reasons behind the sudden spurt in lighting deaths 

Lighting deaths in Kolkata is on an alarming rise. But is it just a coincidence? Well, scientists say ‘no.’ Atmospheric scientists and researchers warn of more fatalities from lightning strikes in Kolkata if urgent measures are not taken to curb air pollution. It is believed the cocktail formed by rise in pollutant particles in the air and temperature increase due to global warming has fuelled more lightning in the recent past.

In the past, most lightnings happened between clouds, high up in the sky and did not fall on the ground. This was known as cloud-to-cloud lightning. But in recent years cloud-to-ground lightning have increased manifold, and that is alarming as it is causing deaths and damage in Kolkata. And this is due to pollution. Suspended particulate matter over the city has shot up and reached a high level. This has lead to intense lightning strikes. Increasing lightning strikes are also causing increase in nitrogen oxide levels that makes the ozone reach the troposphere zone from the stratosphere zone. Ozone exposure again can cause harm to humans. 

Kolkata’s temperature has also increased by one degree in last 40 years, that has also contributed to high incidence of lightning. Scientists had already warned increase of a degree of temperature can lead to 56% increase in lightning strikes.