Lightning are violent flying sparks between oppositely charged areas, either within the cloud or between it and the ground.
Cumulonimbus clouds are formed in unstable air; violent vertical currents of nearly 100 km / h resulting warm moist air aloft, rising air cools and condenses into ice fragments, hail and rain droplets.
Because of their mass the finer particles are rising above the cloud top, the friction between the particles and the larger remainder of the cloud base creates a separation of electric charges, the lighter particles being positively charged. The remainder particles at the base of the cloud charge negatively. Violent vertical movements create an imbalance between charges within the cloud.
Same story between the base of the cloud and the ground.
The nature of lightning evolves over the course of the storm, most often in this order:
In a cloud: shock altitude within a cloud which represents 75% of lightning produced during a thunderstorm.
Flash sheet: estate intranuageuses discharges propagating slowly at the vertices of a chain of cumulonimbus.
Between clouds: Aerial electrical discharge tens of kilometers between two clouds.
Thunderbolt: electrical discharge between the ground and the cloud (only 10% of thunderstorm activity).
Lightning causes other less known phenomena such as blue jets, elves, goblins, red sprites and fire balls.
The sprites are strange flashes, huge sheets of soft light that leave the cloud base and deploy to the mesosphere. About one in twenty storms can generate them: they rise up to 56 miles of altitude and spread on a width of 9 miles. One can see them only at night, using hyper-sensitive cameras. The phenomenon is too short to evaluate the energy it displays. But there are in the sprites energy resources of unusual power and nature, that will interest the engineers of the future. The elves appear with some sprites, always preceding them, and always shorter than them.
They propagate in the form of a sphere, at the speed of light. When such a sphere reaches its critical altitude, around 56 miles, it crashes in a shape of ring. The elves are a touchy point for science. The study of these phenomena could bring miracle solutions, especially in the fields of gravitology and health: like medecine-men and shamans of the past, the elves’ ionization could cure the morpho-genetic fields constituting the material body and its subtle envelopes.
The blue jets have been observed for the first time in 1994.
They are geysers of ascending light that have the form of an inverted umbrella. They come out of the cloud base, usually just after the fall of lightning, and just above it. These conical jets of midnight blue light propagate from the cloud tops up to a speed of about 75 miles per second and never seem to exceed 25 miles in altitude. Are they a kind of reactive power such as occurs in hydro-electric power plants? Impossible to say: the phenomenon is still too little known.
Rapid City, USA – Lightning Researcher Tom Warner has used high-speed cameras to observe another new phenomenon: the ascending lightning. They spring from the top of a tower or antenna during a thunderstorm or strong static electricity. They are triggered by a precursor lightning, falling from a cloud. After a short time, as supplied by the lightning, lightning upward flows from the tower into the sky where it branches immediately. The lightning specialists received his first films with some amazement. Tom Warner’s research is continuing now.
Last but not least: ball lightning, or fire ball, is far from being unanimously admitted in the scientific community. The most fascinating mystery about lightning might be a clue for today’s crisis. It is indeed a strange event, more akin to science fiction than to any weather science. According to researchers, these fire balls are not necessarily connected with thunderstorms. Indeed fire balls have been seen by nice weather, under unclouded sky.
As such, and for many other reasons, lightning balls deserves a very special study.