Background information on sprites
First, check out
Dr. Morss's Home Page!
This section will attempt to summarize the current hypotheses regarding
sprites and blue jets. Since most work has been done on sprites, the majority
of this presentation is focused on those phenomena.
The entire consideration of sprites and blue jets requires us to
take a step back. Looking at the above figure, consider the overall charge
distribution associated with the cloud/atmosphere complex. The charges
are first noticed in the ionosphere, where a variety of ions/elctrons ("Beta
Particles) are available in abundance. Next, the top of the thunderstorm
possesses an overall positive charge, while the lower portion of the cloud
(around 6 km) has a strong NEGATIVE charge. Below the 0 deg C isotherm,
we will observe a small concentration of positive charge, and the earth's
surface will also posess a net positive charge. This starting point is
important, since it allows us to visually grasp the initial careful balance
of charges throughout the vertical. A KEY ASSUMPTION in this argument is
that the entire distribution of charges maintains an overall balance, preventing
a flow of charge in any direction.
Now, let us suppose that a discharge takes place between the negatively
charged region at 6 km to the ground. Consider, then, that the aforementioned
balance of charge has been violated, thus allowing for a possible discharge
to take place between the positively charged top of the cloud and the ionosphere.
It would be reasonable to argue that a discharge would take place in this
manner, since the electrical potential difference between cloud/ionosphere
area would be the same, while the potential difference between the cloud
top and the lower part of the cloud would be significantly deceased. This,
then, is a possible scenario that we might use to explain the appearance
of sprites/blue jets.
***NOTICE*** This page is still under contruction!!!
Contact: Paul McCrone - PaulJMC@aol.com
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