Lightning‐driven electric fields measured in the lower ionosphere: Implications for transient luminous events

Journal of Geophysical Research A: Space Physics
By: , and 

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Abstract

Transient luminous events above thunderstorms such as sprites, halos, and elves require large electric fields in the lower ionosphere. Yet very few in situ measurements in this region have been successfully accomplished, since it is typically too low in altitude for rockets and satellites and too high for balloons. In this article, we present some rare examples of lightning‐driven electric field changes obtained at 75–130 km altitude during a sounding rocket flight from Wallops Island, Virginia, in 1995. We summarize these electric field changes and present a few detailed case studies. Our measurements are compared directly to a 2D numerical model of lightning‐driven electromagnetic fields in the middle and upper atmosphere. We find that the in situ electric field changes are smaller than predicted by the model, and the amplitudes of these fields are insufficient for elve production when extrapolated to a 100 kA peak current stroke. This disagreement could be due to lightning‐induced ionospheric conductivity enhancement, or it might be evidence of flaws in the electromagnetic pulse mechanism for elves.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Lightning‐driven electric fields measured in the lower ionosphere: Implications for transient luminous events
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research A: Space Physics
DOI 10.1029/2008JA013567
Volume 113
Issue A12
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description Article A12306; 8 p.
First page 1
Last page 8