On the Triggering Mechanisms of Upward Lightning

Schumann, C.
Saba, M
Warner, T.
Ferro, M.
Helsdon Jr, J.H.
Thomas, R.
Orville, R.E.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Nature Research
Upward lightning studies took place in Rapid City, South Dakota, USA and S. Paulo, Brazil during the summer thunderstorm seasons from 2011 to 2016. One of the main objectives of these campaigns was to evaluate and characterize the triggering of upward positive leaders from tall objects due to preceding nearby flash activity. 110 upward flashes were observed with a combination of high- and standard-speed video and digital still cameras, electric field meters, fast electric-field antenna systems, and for two seasons, a Lightning Mapping Array. These data were analyzed, along with correlated lightning location system data, to determine the triggering flash type responsible for the initiation of upward leaders from towers. In this paper, we describe the various processes during flash activity that can trigger upward leaders from tall objects in the USA and in Brazil. We conclude that the most effective triggering component is the propagation of the in-cloud negative leader during the continuing current that follows a positive return stroke.
The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Lie Bie (Benny), Amanda Paiva, Guilherme Aminger, Kleber Naccarato, Hugh Hunt, Alana Ballweber, Chip Redmond, John Hamilton and Ryan Lueck, for their assistance in obtaining some of these observations. The authors would like to thank Claude Leon Foundation and University of the Witwatersrand. The authors would also like to thank Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) for supporting the research through the projects 2012/15375-7 and 2013/05784-0. This research was made possible through National Science Foundation (NSF) grant AGS-1048103. Additional funding came from NSF grant ATM – 0813672, which provided funding for concurrent high-speed optical spectra observations during UPLIGHTS. Data for this study is available on request. Please contact the corresponding author for details.
Upward lightning, Lightning protection, Cloud charge, Flash activity
Schumann, C. et al. 2019. On the Triggering Mechanisms of Upward Lightning. Scientific Reports 9 (1), Article number 9576. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-46122-x