- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Geophysical Research Letters
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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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
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The properties of the first 5–12 classic initial breakdown pulses (IBPs) of three cloud‐to‐ground (CG) lightning flashes were determined using a modified transmission line model. As part of the modeling, the current with respect to time of each IBP was determined from the measured electric field changes at multiple sites using three theoretical methods called Hilbert transform, Hertzian dipole, and matrix inversion. In the transmission line modeling the length of each IBP was estimated from high‐speed video data of the IBPs. The modeling provided the following properties of the larger classic IBPs in each flash: peak current, velocity, total charge, charge moment, radiated power, and total energy dissipated for successive IB pulses in three developing lightning flashes. For the main initial leader channel in the three CG flashes (and for one long branch), IBP peak current was largest for the first or second classic IBP and declined mostly monotonically with successive IBPs. For the same channels, IBP current velocity was smallest for the first classic IBP and increased mostly monotonically with successive IBPs. The smallest velocities were (2.0, 2.5, 2.5, 3.0) × 107m/s, respectively, while the largest velocities were (9.2, 12.2, 11.5, 12.0) × 107m/s, respectively. These data support earlier hypotheses that it is the classic IB pulses during initial leader of normal negative CG flashes that change the nonconductive air into an ionized path that is sufficiently long and conductive to start the stepped leader.
A positive cloud‐to‐ground (+CG) lightning flash containing a single stroke with a peak current of approximately +310 kA followed by a long continuing current triggered seven upward lightning flashes from tall structures. The flashes were observed on 4 June 2016 at the Tall Object Lightning Observatory in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China. The optical and electric field characteristics of these flashes were analyzed using synchronized two‐station data from two high‐speed video cameras, one total‐sky lightning channel imager, two lightning channel imagers, and two sets of slow and fast electric field measuring systems. Three upward flashes were initiated sequentially in the field of view of high‐speed video cameras. One of them was initiated approximately 0.35 ms after the return stroke of +CG flash from the Canton Tower, the tallest structure within a 12‐km radius of the +CG flash, while the other two upward flashes were initiated from two other, more distant tall objects, approximately 18 ms after the +CG flash stroke. The initiation of the latter two upward flashes could be caused by the combined effect of the return stroke of +CG flash, its associated continuing current, and K process in the cloud. Each of these three upward flashes contained multiple downward leader/upward return stroke sequences, with the first leader/return stroke sequence of the second and third flashes occurring only after the completion of the last leader/return stroke sequence of the preceding flash. The total number of strokes in the three upward flashes was 13, and they occurred over approximately 1.5 s.
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.