Researchers find unusual phenomenon in clouds triggers lightning flash

UNH researchers find unusual phenomenon in clouds triggers lightning flash
The lightning seen here starts out deep inside the cloud where scientists continue to study its first moments. In their study, UNH researchers observed a possible new way that lightning forms called "fast negative breakdown." Credit: UNH

In a first-of-its-kind observation, researchers from the University of New Hampshire Space Science Center have documented a unique event that occurs in clouds before a lightning flash happens. Their observation, called "fast negative breakdown," documents a new possible way for lightning to form and is the opposite of the current scientific view of how air carries electricity in thunderstorms.

"This is the first time fast negative breakdown has ever been observed, so it's very exciting," said Ningyu Liu, professor of physics. "Despite over 250 years of research, how lightning begins is still a mystery. The process was totally unexpected and gives us more insight into how lightning starts and spreads."

Their finding, published in the journal Nature Communications, is another step toward answering the question of how lightning begins. Recently, the problem of lightning initiation seemed to be solved with the discovery of "fast positive breakdown" of air, which matched the theory long held by lightning researchers. Fast positive breakdown involves the downward development of a pathway in the cloud, moving from the at the top of the cloud to the in the middle of the cloud. The pathway forms at one-fifth the speed of light and can trigger lightning. However, the newly reported observation of fast negative breakdown shows that an upward pathway—going in the opposite direction and just as fast—can be created in a thundercloud, indicating there's another way to start electricity in the air. Ultimately, this provides scientists with a new view of what's possible inside a storm cloud.

Researchers find unusual phenomenon in clouds triggers lightning flash
Researchers install electric field sensors in ground-based antennas that help determine the current direction that triggers lightning in the clouds. Credit: Julia Tilles

"These findings indicate that lightning creation within a cloud might be more bidirectional than we originally thought," said Julia Tilles, a doctoral candidate in the UNH Space Science Center.

In collaboration with a lightning research team from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the researchers documented fast negative breakdown in a Florida lightning storm at Kennedy Space Center using radio waves originating deep inside the storm . An array of ground-based antennas picked up the , which then allowed researchers to create a highly detailed image of the radio sources and identify this unusual phenomenon.

Researchers find unusual phenomenon in clouds triggers lightning flash
The lightning seen here starts out deep inside the cloud where scientists continue to study its first moments. In their study, UNH researchers observed a possible new way that lightning forms called “fast negative breakdown.” Credit: UNH

Researchers continue to develop images from the data and hope to learn more about how often fast negative breakdown events occur and what fraction of them can initiate an actual flash.


Explore further

Scientists find clues to the mystery of what causes lightning

More information: Julia N. Tilles et al, Fast negative breakdown in thunderstorms, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09621-z
Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: Researchers find unusual phenomenon in clouds triggers lightning flash (2019, April 10) retrieved 17 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-unusual-phenomenon-clouds-triggers-lightning.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
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Apr 11, 2019
Is it possible that a discharge, in the cloud, generates charged (positive) particles, or ionizing radiations, or even partially LASER emissions collimated towards the ground that precisely ionize a discharge path towards the ground?

Apr 11, 2019
But where do all the excess aqueous electrons e(aq) come from in the first place?

Could "Multiphoton Ionization of Liquid Water with 3.0-5.0 eV Photons" provide an answer?

http://pubs.acs.o...e=jpchax

What might this mean for the future of solar energy and electrical storage?

Apr 12, 2019
Their observation, called "fast negative breakdown," documents a new possible way for lightning to form and is the opposite of the current scientific view of how air carries electricity in thunderstorms.

Yep, that is about right, the opposite of the current scientific view! LOL.
This is very likely true for all naturally occurring plasmas and most definitely cosmic plasmas where the current view is gravity initiates processes in space. Assume the opposite and you are a whole lot closer than the astrophysicists.

Apr 14, 2019
maybe high energy particles could trigger lightning from ionisation trails in the atmosphere

akin to bubbles forming in carbonated water from micro defects in the glass container

? x:)

Apr 14, 2019
Their observation, called "fast negative breakdown," documents a new possible way for lightning to form and is the opposite of the current scientific view of how air carries electricity in thunderstorms.

Yep, that is about right, the opposite of the current scientific view! LOL.
This is very likely true for all naturally occurring plasmas and most definitely cosmic plasmas where the current view is gravity initiates processes in space. Assume the opposite and you are a whole lot closer than the astrophysicists.


Nope. You understand the square root of zero about either plasma physics or astrophysics. In which case, why comment? You are clueless.

Apr 14, 2019
Their observation, called "fast negative breakdown," documents a new possible way for lightning to form and is the opposite of the current scientific view of how air carries electricity in thunderstorms.

Yep, that is about right, the opposite of the current scientific view! LOL.
This is very likely true for all naturally occurring plasmas and most definitely cosmic plasmas where the current view is gravity initiates processes in space. Assume the opposite and you are a whole lot closer than the astrophysicists.


Nope. You understand the square root of zero about either plasma physics or astrophysics. In which case, why comment? You are clueless.

Another pointless post by the resident crankpot troll stalker. Do you ever post anything of value?

Apr 14, 2019
Another pointless post by the resident crankpot troll stalker. Do you ever post anything of value?


Yes, umpteen links to real science that shows your lies to be just that. Have you ever posted anything other than BS pseudoscience? Velikovskian loon.

Apr 14, 2019
Another pointless post by the resident crankpot troll stalker. Do you ever post anything of value?


Yes, umpteen links to real science that shows your lies to be just that. Have you ever posted anything other than BS pseudoscience? Velikovskian loon.

Yep, umpteen links to science which like above are the opposite of reality.

Apr 14, 2019
Yep, umpteen links to science which like above are the opposite of reality.


Now you are back to your habit of lying, given that you have nothing else other than pseudoscience BS.

Apr 14, 2019
Yep, umpteen links to science which like above are the opposite of reality.


Now you are back to your habit of lying, given that you have nothing else other than pseudoscience BS.

We have been studying these processes for in Earth's atmosphere for 250-years, and we have it backwards using the same upside down physics the astrophysicists use to describe space plasmas. But somehow, according to jonesdumb it is correct in space.

Apr 14, 2019
We have been studying these processes for in Earth's atmosphere for 250-years, and we have it backwards using the same upside down physics the astrophysicists use to describe space plasmas. But somehow, according to jonesdumb it is correct in space.


Christ you are an idiot. Lightning is rather dangerous and difficult to study. Having metallic instruments around lightning is not particularly advisable. And the only person claiming that plasma astrophysics is wrong are idiotic, unqualified cultist loons such as yourself, who have no idea about the subject.

Apr 14, 2019
But somehow, according to jonesdumb it is correct in space.


Idiot. No lightning in space.

Apr 14, 2019
But somehow, according to jonesdumb it is correct in space.


Idiot. No lightning in space.

LOL! Moron claims no plasma discharges occur in plasmas! Right up there in the top ten stupid comments made.

Apr 14, 2019
LOL! Moron claims no plasma discharges occur in plasmas! Right up there in the top ten stupid comments made.


Plasma is very conductive. To produce lightning you need a dielectric to break down.

Apr 14, 2019
LOL! Moron claims no plasma discharges occur in plasmas! Right up there in the top ten stupid comments made.


Plasma is very conductive. To produce lightning you need a dielectric to break down.

ROTFLMFAO! jonesdumb doubles down on stupid claiming arc discharges don't occur in plasmas! He still hasn't convinced me he doesn't require assistance to put on his pants and tie his shoes, although there is Velcro to explain the shoe part.

Apr 15, 2019
LOL! Moron claims no plasma discharges occur in plasmas! Right up there in the top ten stupid comments made.


Plasma is very conductive. To produce lightning you need a dielectric to break down.

ROTFLMFAO! jonesdumb doubles down on stupid claiming arc discharges don't occur in plasmas! He still hasn't convinced me he doesn't require assistance to put on his pants and tie his shoes, although there is Velcro to explain the shoe part.


Show me a lightning bolt in space, idiot.

Apr 15, 2019
A lightning bolt in space

Space - the vacuous vacuum of space
lightning
the flow of electricity in plasma
where
that plasma is in this atmosphere
where
this atmosphere is in space
where this space is this vacuous vacuum
Lightning is electrical discharge in plasma in this vacuum
so
To this vacuous question of jonesy "Show me a lightning bolt in space, idiot."
all
we ask
is this jonesy
asks this specialist in plasma
The right honourable cantdrive esquire, does electric discharge occur in plasmas in this vacuum!

Apr 15, 2019
Dielectrics in Plasmas

In other words cantdrive
jonesy> Plasma is very conductive. To produce lightning you need a dielectric to break down

as jonesy states plasma conducts electricity
to achieve your plasma lightning bolt cantdrive
you have to increase the capacitance of the plasma to increase the voltage to a lightning bolt that breaks down this dielectric

Apr 15, 2019
Dielectrics in Plasmas

Everyone thought
cantdrive old chap
you were having an intellectual discussion on these intricacies of these electrical properties of these plasmas in their mathematical language cantdrive
Which implies cantdrive old chap, you are not as rarity a species as you wonce wont old bean

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