More evidence for a one-to-one correlation between Sprites and Early VLF perturbations

C. Haldoupis, N. Amvrosiadi, B. R. T. Cotts, O. A. van der Velde, Olivier Arnaud Chanrion, Torsten Neubert

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Past studies have shown a correlation between sprites and early VLF perturbations, but the reported correlation varies widely from ∼50% to 100%. The present study resolves these large discrepancies by analyzing several case studies of sprite and narrowband VLF observations, in which multiple transmitter‐receiver VLF pairs with great circle paths (GCPs) passing near a sprite‐producing thunderstorm were available. In this setup, the multiple paths act in a complementary way that makes the detection of early VLF perturbations much more probable compared to a single VLF path that can miss several of them, a fact that was overlooked in past studies. The evidence shows that visible sprite occurrences are accompanied by early VLF perturbations in a one‐to‐one correspondence. This implies that the sprite generation mechanism may cause also sub‐ionospheric conductivity disturbances that produce early VLF events. However, the one‐to‐one visible sprite to early VLF event correspondence, if viewed conversely, appears not to be always reciprocal. This is because the number of early events detected in some case studies was considerably larger than the number of visible sprites. Since the great majority of the early events not accompanied by visible sprites appeared to be caused by positive cloud to ground (+CG) lightning discharges, it is possible that sprites or sprite halos were concurrently present in these events as well but were missed by the sprite‐watch camera detection system. In order for this option to be resolved we need more studies using highly sensitive optical systems capable of detecting weaker sprites, sprite halos and elves.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Pages (from-to)A07304
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2010


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