An analysis of five negative sprite-parent discharges and their associated thunderstorm charge structures


Journal Article

© 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. In this study we analyze the discharge morphologies of five confirmed negative sprite-parent discharges and the associated charge structures of the thunderstorms that produced them. The negative sprite-parent lightning took place in two thunderstorms that were associated with a tropical disturbance in east central and south Florida. The first thunderstorm, which moved onshore in east central Florida, produced four of the five negative sprite-parent discharges within a period of 17 min, as it made landfall from the Atlantic Ocean. These negative sprite-parents were composed of bolt-from-the-blue (BFB), hybrid intracloud-negative cloud-to-ground (IC-NCG), and multicell IC-NCGs discharges. The second thunderstorm, which occurred inland over south Florida, produced a negative sprite-parent that was a probable hybrid IC-NCG discharge and two negative gigantic jets (GJs). Weakened upper positive charge with very large midlevel negative charge was inferred for both convective cells that initiated the negative-sprite-parent discharges. Our study suggests tall, intense convective systems with high wind shear at the middle to upper regions of the cloud accompanied by low cloud-to-ground (CG) flash rates promote these charge structures. The excess amount of midlevel negative charge results in these CG discharges transferring much more charge to ground than typical negative CG discharges. We find that BFB discharges prefer an asymmetrical charge structure that brings the negative leader exiting the upper positive charge region closer to the lateral positive screening charge layer. This may be the main factor in determining whether a negative leader exiting the upper positive region of the thundercloud forms a BFB or GJ.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Boggs, LD; Liu, N; Splitt, M; Lazarus, S; Glenn, C; Rassoul, H; Cummer, SA

Published Date

  • January 27, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 121 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 759 - 784

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2156-2202

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0148-0227

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/2015JD024188

Citation Source

  • Scopus