Geophysical Research Letters
American Geophysical Union
A balloon payload launched in Brazil has measured vector electric fields from lightning at least an order of magnitude larger than previously reported above 30 km in the stratosphere. During the flight hundreds of lightning events were recorded, including several positive cloud to ground lightning strokes. A two stroke flash, with small (15 kA peak current) and moderate (53 kA) positive strokes at a horizontal range of 34 km, produced field changes over 140 V/m at 34 km altitude. On-board optical lightning detection, recorded with GPS timing, coupled with ground based lightning location gives high time resolution for study of the electric field transient propagation. These measurements imply that lightning electric fields in the mesosphere over large thunderstorms may be much larger than previously measured.
Holzworth, R.H., M.C. McCarthy, J.N. Thomas, J. Chin, T.M. Chinowsky, M.J. Taylor, and O.Pinto, Jr., Strong electric fields from positive lightning strokes in the stratosphere. Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L04809, doi:10.1029/2004GL021554, 2005