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CALL Powered by Salesforce Service Cloud. What's on your mind? Consequently, a lightning strike observed at a very close distance will be accompanied by a sudden clap of thunder, with almost no perceptible time lapse, possibly accompanied by the smell of ozone O 3.

How does the lightning

Lightning at a sufficient distance may be seen and not heard; there is data that a lightning storm can be seen at over miles whereas the thunder travels about 20 miles. Anecdotally, there are many examples of people saying 'the storm was directly overhead or all-around and yet there was no thunder'. There is no coherent data available.

In the same year University of Florida and Florida Tech researchers used an array of electric field and X-ray detectors at a lightning research facility in North Florida to confirm that natural lightning makes X-rays in large quantities during the propagation of stepped leaders. The cause of the X-ray emissions is still a matter for research, as the temperature of lightning is too low to account for the X-rays observed.

A number of observations by space-based telescopes have revealed even higher energy gamma ray emissions, the so-called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes TGFs. These observations pose a challenge to current theories of lightning, especially with the recent discovery of the clear signatures of antimatter produced in lightning.

The very high temperatures generated by lightning lead to significant local increases in ozone and oxides of nitrogen. Volcanic activity produces lightning-friendly conditions in multiple ways. The enormous quantity of pulverized material and gases explosively ejected into the atmosphere creates a dense plume of particles. The ash density and constant motion within the volcanic plume produces charge by frictional interactions triboelectrification , resulting in very powerful and very frequent flashes as the cloud attempts to neutralize itself.

Due to the extensive solid material ash content, unlike the water rich charge generating zones of a normal thundercloud, it is often called a dirty thunderstorm. Lightning has been observed within the atmospheres of other planets , such as Jupiter and Saturn. Although in the minority on Earth, superbolts appear to be common on Jupiter. Lightning on Venus has been a controversial subject after decades of study. During the Soviet Venera and U. Pioneer missions of the s and s, signals suggesting lightning may be present in the upper atmosphere were detected. Radio pulses recorded by the spacecraft Venus Express which began orbiting Venus in April may originate from lightning on Venus.

Thunder is heard as a rolling, gradually dissipating rumble because the sound from different portions of a long stroke arrives at slightly different times. When the local electric field exceeds the dielectric strength of damp air about 3 million volts per meter , electrical discharge results in a strike , often followed by commensurate discharges branching from the same path.

See image, right. Mechanisms that cause the charges to build up to lightning are still a matter of scientific investigation. Rison Lightning may be caused by the circulation of warm moisture-filled air through electric fields. Researchers at the University of Florida found that the final one-dimensional speeds of 10 flashes observed were between 1. The earliest detector invented to warn of the approach of a thunder storm was the lightning bell. Benjamin Franklin installed one such device in his house.

Lightning discharges generate a wide range of electromagnetic radiations, including radio-frequency pulses. The times at which a pulse from a given lightning discharge arrives at several receivers can be used to locate the source of the discharge. The United States federal government has constructed a nationwide grid of such lightning detectors, allowing lightning discharges to be tracked in real time throughout the continental U.

Electromagnetic pulses transmitted by lightning strikes propagate within that waveguide.

The Science of Lightning - National Geographic

The waveguide is dispersive, which means that their group velocity depends on frequency. The difference of the group time delay of a lightning pulse at adjacent frequencies is proportional to the distance between transmitter and receiver. Moreover, the eigenfrequencies of the Earth-ionospheric waveguide, the Schumann resonances at about 7. In addition to ground-based lightning detection, several instruments aboard satellites have been constructed to observe lightning distribution. The movement of electrical charges produces a magnetic field see electromagnetism. The intense currents of a lightning discharge create a fleeting but very strong magnetic field.

Where the lightning current path passes through rock, soil, or metal these materials can become permanently magnetized. This effect is known as lightning-induced remanent magnetism, or LIRM. These currents follow the least resistive path, often horizontally near the surface [] [] but sometimes vertically, where faults, ore bodies, or ground water offers a less resistive path.

Lightning-induced magnetic anomalies can be mapped in the ground, [] [] and analysis of magnetized materials can confirm lightning was the source of the magnetization [] and provide an estimate of the peak current of the lightning discharge. Research at the University of Innsbruck has found that magnetic fields generated by plasma may induce hallucinations in subjects located within meters of a severe lightning storm.

Some high energy cosmic rays produced by supernovas as well as solar particles from the solar wind, enter the atmosphere and electrify the air, which may create pathways for lightning bolts.

Contrary to the common expression, lightning can and often does strike the same place twice.

In many cultures, lightning has been viewed as part of a deity or a deity in and of itself. Verses in the Jewish religion and in Islam also ascribe supernatural importance to lightning. In Christianity , the Second Coming of Jesus is compared to lightning. The expression "Lightning never strikes twice in the same place " is similar to "Opportunity never knocks twice" in the vein of a "once in a lifetime" opportunity, i. Lightning occurs frequently and more so in specific areas.

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Since various factors alter the probability of strikes at any given location, repeat lightning strikes have a very low probability but are not impossible. Some political parties use lightning flashes as a symbol of power, such as the People's Action Party in Singapore , the British Union of Fascists during the s, and the National States' Rights Party in the United States during the s.

In French and Italian, the expression for "Love at first sight" is coup de foudre and colpo di fulmine , respectively, which literally translated means "lightning strike". Some European languages have a separate word for lightning which strikes the ground as opposed to lightning in general ; often it is a cognate of the English word "rays". The name of Australia's most celebrated thoroughbred horse, Phar Lap , derives from the shared Zhuang and Thai word for lightning.

The bolt of lightning in heraldry is called a thunderbolt and is shown as a zigzag with non-pointed ends. This symbol usually represents power and speed. The lightning bolt is used to represent the instantaneous communication capabilities of electrically powered telegraphs and radios. It was a commonly used motif in Art Deco design, especially the zig-zag Art Deco design of the late s. A lightning bolt is also the NATO symbol for a signal asset.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Atmospheric discharge of electricity. For other uses, see Lightning disambiguation.

For other uses, see Return stroke disambiguation. Not to be confused with Lighting. Play media. Calendar seasons. Winter Spring Summer Autumn. Tropical seasons. Dry season Harmattan Wet season. Meteorology Climate change Tornado terms Tropical cyclone terms. Main article: Distribution of lightning. Main article: Thunderstorm. Main article: Lightning strike. Main article: Thunder. Main article: Lightning detection. Further information: Lightning in religion. This " see also " section may contain an excessive number of suggestions. Please ensure that only the most relevant links are given, that they are not red links , and that any links are not already in this article.


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August Learn how and when to remove this template message. Environment portal Weather portal. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. Bibcode : JGRD.. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.