Cart (Loading....) | Create Account
Close category search window

On the physics of lightning

Sign In

Cookies must be enabled to login.After enabling cookies , please use refresh or reload or ctrl+f5 on the browser for the login options.

Formats Non-Member Member
$31 $13
Learn how you can qualify for the best price for this item!
Become an IEEE Member or Subscribe to
IEEE Xplore for exclusive pricing!
close button

puzzle piece

IEEE membership options for an individual and IEEE Xplore subscriptions for an organization offer the most affordable access to essential journal articles, conference papers, standards, eBooks, and eLearning courses.

Learn more about:

IEEE membership

IEEE Xplore subscriptions

1 Author(s)
Lowke, John J. ; Telecommun. & Ind. Phys., CSIRO, Lindfield, NSW, Australia

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 proceeds by luminous steps about 50 m in length, with about 50 μs separating each step. The second is to explain the initiation of upward leaders from tall objects on the ground, induced by the downward leaders from the cloud. Of particular importance is the concept of "critical radius," used in calculations for the effective attractive radius for the collection of lightning by lightning rods. The third, is the unresolved issue of "ball lightning," where observations have been reported during thunderstorms of luminous spheres of plasma a few centimeters in diameter, moving about 1 m above the ground for periods of up to 10 s, existing inside houses and even aeroplanes. Approximate quantitative calculations are given as proposed explanations of these phenomena, using numerical calculations based on the continuity equations for electrons and ions and also Poisson's Equation to account for space charge effects. Also used are the two material properties of air that at 1 bar the electric field to initiate breakdown is 2.5 MV/m (25 kV/cm) and the field required to sustain a glow discharge is 0.5 MV/m (5 kV/cm).

Published in:

Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:32 ,  Issue: 1 )

Date of Publication:

Feb. 2004

Need Help?

IEEE Advancing Technology for Humanity About IEEE Xplore | Contact | Help | Terms of Use | Nondiscrimination Policy | Site Map | Privacy & Opting Out of Cookies

A not-for-profit organization, IEEE is the world's largest professional association for the advancement of technology.
© Copyright 2014 IEEE - All rights reserved. Use of this web site signifies your agreement to the terms and conditions.