Daniel Swain in National Geographic: Lightning struck near the North Pole 48 times. Here’s why it’s not normal.
“It has been an extraordinary year and an extraordinary summer in the far north,” says Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Lightning in the Arctic Circle as a whole isn’t that unusual, and portions of northern Alaska and Siberia see some lightning almost every summer. But, said Swain, once you hit the coast of the Arctic Ocean and head north, you tend not to get strong updrafts nor enough atmospheric instability to produce lightning-capable clouds.