Geoscience Reference
In-Depth Information
Chapter 5
Discharge Processes in a Stratosphere
and Mesosphere During a Thunderstorm
K.V. Khodataev
Abstract This work is devoted to the theory development of the discharge phe-
nomena called elves and sprites in the stratosphere and mesosphere initiated
by tropospheric storm processes. The process of redistribution of charges in an
atmosphere at altitudes up to 150 km during charging and discharging of a storm
cloud is investigated at a quantitative level. An important role of the small electric
conductivity of the stratosphere and mesosphere is shown. At the lightning discharge
of a storm cloud, the area of the overcritical field appears under the ionosphere
in which the avalanche ionization arises (elf). The avalanche ionization front
instability causes the growth of large-scale perturbances, developing into an area of
a subcritical field and initiating the system of subcritical streamer discharges. The
account of the small electric conductivity of the atmosphere between the troposphere
and the ionosphere has allowed explaining the long duration of discharge processes
developing under the ionosphere, basically in the residual electrostatic polarization
Keywords Plasma ￿ Ionosphere ￿ Mesosphere ￿ Discharge ￿ Streamer
￿ Elves ￿ Sprites ￿ Ionization avalanche ￿ Thunderstorm ￿ Clouds ￿ Lightning
Pioneer visual observations of the high-altitude discharges from airplanes and
orbital stations over 89-91 years of the last century (Boeck et al. 1994 , 1998 )
have stimulated regular scientific research of an unknown phenomenon (Franz and
Nemzek 1990 ; Sentman and Wescott 1993 ; Lyons 1994 ; Sentman et al. 1995 ;
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