Profuse activity of blue electrical discharges at the tops of thunderstorms

Olivier Chanrion, Torsten Neubert, Andreas Mogensen, Yoav Yair, Martin Stendel, Rajesh Singh, Devendraa Siingh

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Abstract

Thunderstorm clouds may reach the lower stratosphere, affecting the exchange of greenhouse gases between the troposphere and stratosphere. This region of the atmosphere is difficult to access experimentally and our knowledge of the processes taking place here is incomplete. We recently recorded a color video footage of thunderstorms over the Bay of Bengal from the International Space Station. The observations show a multitude of blue, km-scale, discharges at the cloud top layer at ~18 km altitude and a pulsating blue discharge propagating into the stratosphere reaching ~40 km altitude. The emissions are related to the so-called blue jets, blue starters and possibly pixies. The observations are the first of their kind and give a new perspective on the electrical activity at the top of tropical thunderstorms; further, they underscore that thunderstorm discharges directly perturb the chemistry of the stratosphere with possible implications for the Earth's radiation balance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume44
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)496–503
ISSN0094-8276
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL071311/full

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