- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Plasma Sources Science and Technology
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
null (Ed.)Abstract Time-correlated high-speed video and electric field change data for 139 natural, negative cloud-to-ground (CG)-lightning flashes reveal 615 return strokes (RSs) and 29 upward-illumination (UI)-type strokes. Among 121 multi-stroke flashes, 56% visibly connected to more than one ground location for either a RS or UI-type stroke. The number of separate ground-stroke connection locations per CG flash averaged 1.74, with maximum 6. This study examines the 88 subsequent strokes that involved a subsequent stepped leader (SSL), either reaching ground or intercepting a former leader to ground, in 61 flashes. Two basic modes by which these SSLs begin are described and are termed dart - then - stepped leaders herein. One inception mode occurs when a dart leader deflects from the prior main channel and begins propagating as a stepped leader to ground. In these ‘divert’ mode cases, the relevant interstroke time from the prior RS in the channel to the SSL inception from that path is long, ranging from 105 to 204 ms in four visible cases. The alternative mode of SSL inception occurs when a dart leader reaches the end of a prior unsuccessful branch—of an earlier competing dart leader, stepped leader, or initial leader—then begins advancing as a stepped leader toward ground. In this more common ‘branch’ mode (85% of visible cases), there may be no portion of the subsequent RS channel that is shared with a prior RS channel. These two inception modes, and variations among them, can occur in different subsequent strokes of the same flash.more » « less
Using visible‐range and infrared (3–5 μm) high‐speed video cameras, we observed luminosity transients that reilluminated decayed branches of two close (2 to 4 km) negative stepped leaders in Florida. Leader branches were energized via stepping at their tips and, as a result, were most heated near their lower ends, with the hotter sections being connected via cooler sections to the trunk. In the modeling of lightning leaders, usually a single tip is considered. In contrast, in the present study, many (up to 30 per major branch) tips were active at the same time, forming a network‐like structure with a descending multitip “ionization front” whose transverse dimensions were of the order of hundreds of meters. The front exhibited alternating stepping, with each step necessarily generating a positive charge wave traveling from the leader tip up along the channel, like a mini return stroke. We inferred that the step‐related waves can cause luminosity transients in the remnants of decayed negative branches at higher altitudes. Such reactivated branches, in turn, may facilitate further leader stepping at lower altitudes, as first reported by Stolzenburg et al. (2015,
https://doi.org/10.1002/2014JD022933). The reactivation process is likely to involve multiple steps, as evidenced by a large number of active tips (some tens per 50‐μs frame) and corresponding electric field pulses occurring at time intervals of 2 μs or less. Additionally, our observations suggest that a transient in one decayed branch can trigger (or assist with triggering of) a transient in another branch.
We present sub‐microsecond‐scale, high‐speed video camera observations of three negative stepped leaders in cloud‐to‐ground flashes with return‐stroke peak currents (estimated by the U.S. National Lightning Detection Network) of −17, −104, and −228 kA. The camera frame exposure times for these observations were 1.8, 1.0, and 0.74 µs, respectively. The 0.74 µs exposure time is the shortest reported to date. We observed the temporal and spatial evolution of space leaders from their inception to their attachment to the pre‐existing leader channel (PELC). For stepped leaders that led to return strokes having higher peak currents, the space leaders appear to have incepted at farther median two‐dimensional distances from their respective PELC‐attachment points. These median distances were 6.1, 16.6, and 17.6 m, respectively, for the three strokes. Our observations indicate that space leader characteristics are likely influenced by stepped‐leader line‐charge‐density, which is expected to be higher in strokes with higher return‐stroke peak currents.
This study reports on spectroscopy results from a high‐speed optical spectrograph of two naturally occurring lightning return strokes. The two strokes occurred near Melbourne, FL and were from two separate flashes that were about 10 min apart and had National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) peak currents of −19 and −63 kA. The larger peak current stroke was from a dart leader and was the last stroke in a 5 return stroke flash, while the −19 kA stroke originated from a stepped leader and was the only stroke in that flash. From the flash spectra, the return stroke channel temperature was calculated using the neutral lines of 715.7 nm (OI) and 777.4 nm (OI). In addition to the use of the neutral emission lines, the use of novel instrumentation and image processing techniques allowed the temperature to be calculated for nearly the entire visible channel (several km) and for long durations (several hundred μs). This enables temperature estimates on an unprecedented spatial and temporal scale, which show that the vertical temperature profile is not uniform across the channel. The lower altitudes are significantly hotter than higher altitudes near the time of the return stroke, with temperature gradients along the channel as large as 12,000 K/km. The rate of cooling of the channel is also initially 3–4 times larger at lower altitudes in comparison with the segments at higher altitudes. The stroke with the larger peak current shows larger maximum temperatures, larger temperature gradients along the channel, and also cools quicker.
Abstract Streamers play a key role in the formation and propagation of lightning channels. In nature streamers rarely appear alone. Their ensemble behavior is very complex and challenging to describe. For instance, the intricate dynamics within the streamer zone of negative lightning leaders give rise to space stems, which help advance the stepped-leader. Another example is how the increasing morphological complexity of sprites can lead to higher sprite current and greater energy deposition in the mesosphere. Insights into the complex dynamics of a streamer corona can be obtained from laboratory experiments that allow us to control the conditions of streamer formation. Based on simultaneous nanosecond-temporal-resolution photography, and measurements of voltage, current, and x-ray emissions, we report the characteristics of negative laboratory streamers in 88 kPa of atmosphere. The streamers are produced at peak voltages of 62.2 ± 3.8 kV in a point-to-plane discharge gap of 6 cm. While all discharges were driven to the same peak voltage, the discharges occurred at different stages of the relatively slow voltage rise (177 ns), allowing us to study discharge properties as a function of onset voltage. The onset voltage ranged between 24 and 67 kV, but x-ray emissions were observed to only occur above 53 kV, with x-ray burst energies scaling quadratically with voltage. The average delay between the current pulse and x-ray emission was found to be 3.5 ± 0.5 ns, indicating that runaway electrons are produced during the streamer inception phase or no later than the transition stage, when the inception cloud is breaking into streamer filaments. During this short time span, runaway electrons can traverse the gap, hit the ground plate and produce bremsstrahlung x-ray photons. However, streamers themselves cannot traverse more than 3.5 mm across the gap, which supports the idea that runaway electron production is not associated to streamer connection to the ground electrode.more » « less