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Investigating Sprite Halo Optical Signatures and Associated Lightning Characteristics Over South America

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As part of the southern Brazil sprite campaign conducted from Santa Maria, Brazil during the summer 2006 almost 600 transient luminous events were imaged from two large thunderstorms located over north-eastern Argentina on February 22-23 and March 3- 4 2006. These ground-based measurements were made from the Southern Space Observatory (SSO) using an array of intensified CCD cameras arranged to view the low-elevation sky over a broad angle to capture the TLE information from the extensive storm systems. This paper focuses on the optical characteristics of over 60 sprite/halos (imaged on 23 March) and their associated polarity and charge moments as determined by an ELF-VLF lightning sensor also deployed at the SSO. Recent satellite measurements of halos over land-sea interfaces suggest that they are mainly associated with negative cloud-to-ground discharges (H. Frey, private communication). The prime location of our coordinated measurements centered over the Pampas of South America has enabled us to quantify the polarity of the halos and to study their associated charge moments.


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