The Mechanism of the Origin and Development of Lightning From Initiating Event to Initial Breakdown Pulses (v.2)

  title={The Mechanism of the Origin and Development of Lightning From Initiating Event to Initial Breakdown Pulses (v.2)},
  author={Alexander Yu. Kostinskiy and Thomas C. Marshall and Maribeth Stolzenburg},
  journal={Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres},
Based on experimental results of recent years, this article presents a qualitative description of a possible mechanism (termed the Mechanism) covering the main stages of lightning initiation, starting before and including the initiating event, followed by the initial electric field change (IEC), followed by the first few initial breakdown pulses (IBPs). The Mechanism assumes initiation occurs in a region of ~1 km3 with average electric field E > 0.3 MV/(m·atm), which contains, because of… 
From decimeter-scale elevated ionic conductivity regions in the cloud to lightning initiation
This work postulates the existence of ion production centers in the cloud, whose occurrence is caused by electric field bursts accompanying hydrometeor collisions (or near collisions) in the turbulent thundercloud environment.
Ultra-high speed video observations of intracloud lightning flash initiation
This study describes results from video observations of five intracloud flashes located ≤ 20 km from the camera and recorded with 6.1 µs exposure time and 6.66 µs frame intervals. Video data are
Electrostatic Conditions That Produce Fast Breakdown in Thunderstorms
Fast breakdown (FB), a breakdown process composed of systems of high‐velocity streamers, has been observed to precede lightning leader formation and play a critical role in lightning initiation.
A distinct negative leader propagation mode
Measurements made with the LOFAR radio telescope show that a negative leader rather suddenly changes, for a few milliseconds, into a mode where it radiates 100 times more VHF power than typical negative leaders after which it spawns a large number of more typicalnegative leaders.
Relay charge transport in thunderclouds and its role in lightning initiation
A new mechanism of charge transport inside a thundercloud is suggested and numerically investigated. The considered mechanism can be called “relay” because it is provided by a dynamical network of a
Assessment of Turbulence Intensity in Different Spots of Lightning Flash Propagation
The updraft speed is correlated to the total lightning flashes a storm produces. Shear along updraft gradients is one of the mechanisms responsible for the production of turbulence kinetic energy
Calculation of the dynamics of the initiation of streamer flashes that provide the NBE VHF signal profile and the VHF phase wave propagation velocity
In this supplementary article to Kostinkskiy et al. (2020), we evaluate how it is possible to initiate and synchronize the start of a large number of streamer flashes, which can provide a powerful
Multi‐Pulse Corona Discharges in Thunderclouds Observed in Optical and Radio Bands
How lightning initiates inside thunderclouds remains a major puzzle of atmospheric electricity. By monitoring optical emissions from thunderstorms, the Atmosphere‐Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM)
Secondary Fast Breakdown in Narrow Bipolar Events
The physical mechanism of Narrow bipolar events (NBEs) has been studied for decades but it still holds many mysteries. Recent observations indicate that the fast breakdown discharges that produce
Luminous Crown Residual Vs. Bright Space Segment: Characteristical Structures for the Intermittent Positive and Negative Leaders of Triggered Lightning
We identify and investigate the intermittent propagation of upward positive and negative leaders in rocket‐triggered lightning based on comprehensive observations of fine time‐resolved optical,


Insights into the ground attachment process of natural lightning gained from an unusual triggered-lightning stroke
[1] We present measured electric and magnetic field and current derivatives from an unusual triggered-lightning stroke that was initiated by a dart-stepped leader and that involved an upward
Electromagnetic activity before initial breakdown pulses of lightning
Lightning flash initiation is studied using electric field change (E‐change) measurements made in Florida. An initial E‐change (IEC) was found immediately before the first initial breakdown (IB)
Lightning-Discharge Initiation as a Noise-Induced Kinetic Transition
The electric fields observed in thunderclouds have the peak values one order of magnitude smaller than the electric strength of air. This fact renders the issue of the lightning-discharge initiation
On the percentage of lightning flashes that begin with initial breakdown pulses
The initial breakdown (IB) stage of lightning flashes typically occurs in the first 20 ms of a flash and includes a series of IB pulses often detected with electric field change sensors. There is
Lightning Initiation Processes Imaged With Very High Frequency Broadband Interferometry
Recent measurements of narrow bipolar lightning events (NBEs) by very high frequency (VHF) radio interferometer have resolved the dynamic development of this special lightning process with
A study of lightning flash initiation prior to the first initial breakdown pulse
Compact intracloud lightning discharges: 1. Mechanism of electromagnetic radiation and modeling
[1] On the basis of experimental evidence of multiple reflections and modeling, we infer that, from the electromagnetic point of view, the so-called compact intracloud lightning discharge (CID) is
Electric field values observed near lightning flash initiations
From a dataset of about 250 soundings of electric field (E), nine were adversely affected by lightning. These soundings are interpreted as ending near lightning initiation locations. Scaled to
Observations of narrow bipolar events reveal how lightning is initiated in thunderstorms
Observations of a relatively unknown type of discharge, called fast positive breakdown, that is the cause of high-power discharges known as narrow bipolar events and is the initiating event of numerous lightning discharges are reported.
On the physics of lightning
  • J. Lowke
  • Physics, Environmental Science
    IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
  • 2004
This paper discusses three issues related to lightning. The first is to provide a quantitative physical explanation of the lightning stepped leader, whereby breakdown from a cloud to the ground