The Properties of a Giant Jet Reflected in a Simultaneous Sprite

Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article – Annual report year: 2012

  • Author: Neubert, Torsten

    Solar System Physics, National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Elektrovej, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Chanrion, Olivier Arnaud

    Solar System Physics, National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Elektrovej, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Arnone, E., Italy

    Istituto di Scienze dell'Atmosfera e del Clima, CNR, Italy

  • Author: Zanotti, F., Italy

    Italian Meteor and TLE Network, Italy

  • Author: Cummer, S., United States

    Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Duke University, United States

  • Author: Li, J., United States

    Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Duke University, United States

  • Author: Füllekrug, M., United Kingdom

    Centre for Space, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University of Bath, United Kingdom

  • Author: Soula, S., France

    Observatoire Mid-Pyrénées, Laboratoire d'Aérologie, Université Paul Sabatier de Toulouse, CNRS, France

  • Author: van der Velde, O., Spain

    Electrical Engineering Department, Technical University of Catalonia, Spain

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Thunderstorm clouds may discharge directly to the ionosphere in spectacular luminous jets - the largest electric discharges of our planet. The properties of these "giants," such as their polarity, conductivity, and currents, have been predicted by models, but are poorly characterized by measurements. A recent observation of a giant, fortuitously illuminated by an unusual sprite discharge in the mesosphere, allows us to study their electric properties and effects on the atmosphere-ionosphere. We show from a first-principles model of the combined giant and sprite event that the observations are consistent with the nature of the giant being a leader in the stratosphere of line charge density similar to 0.8 mCm(-1) and of multiple streamers in the mesosphere. It is further shown that the giant modifies the free electron content of the lower ionosphere because of electric field-driven ionization, electron attachment and detachment processes. This is the first time that sprites are used for sounding the properties of the mesosphere. The results presented here will allow evaluation of theories for jet and gigantic jets and of their influence on the atmosphere and ionosphere.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-space Physics
Publication date30 Dec 2011
Volume116
PagesA12329
Number of pages16
ISSN0148-0227
DOIs
StatePublished
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: 10
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