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31 January 2020
Small electrical charges could help airplanes avoid lightning strikes
There may be a way to make airplanes less prone to lightning strikes. The trick, surprisingly, might be to give airplanes a bit of an electrical charge when they are in the air, say scientists reporting their experimental work in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.
12 September 2019
Lightning flashes illuminate storm behavior
Anybody who has ever tried to photograph lightning knows that it takes patience and special camera equipment. Now, a new study is using those brief but brilliant flashes to illuminate cloud structures and shed light on storm cell behavior, giving weather forecasters new tools for predicting lightning hazards.
10 September 2019
Lightning ‘superbolts’ form over oceans from November to February
The lightning season in the Southeastern U.S. is almost finished for this year, but the peak season for the most powerful strokes of lightning won’t begin until November, according to a newly published global survey of these rare events.
7 June 2019
Climate change may shift timing of summer thunderstorms
Climate change could affect the regularity of summer afternoon thunderstorms in some parts of the world, according to new research. A new study in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters modeled weather patterns in western Germany, northern France and parts of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, under climate change.
17 May 2018
A bolt of insight
A new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres observes rare terrestrial gamma ray flashes produced by lightning strikes.
30 March 2017
Lightning could be sending powerful electromagnetic radiation into space
During a thunderstorm, lightning that hits the ground may be shooting powerful electromagnetic radiation skyward. At least that is the new theory from a physicist in China who specializes in laser-plasma interactions.
12 April 2016
New studies uncover mysterious processes that generate volcanic lightning (plus video)
Two new studies are unraveling some of the mysteries of this violent phenomenon and revealing the similarities – and differences – between volcanic lightning and the kind of lightning produced by thunderclouds. Understanding how this process works could enable scientists to use volcanic lightning to monitor and track the progress of powerful eruptions in real time, according to the studies’ authors.
12 December 2013
Smartphone app could decipher mysterious gamma-ray bursts from thunderstorms
Amid flashing lightning and booming thunder, storms emit a very powerful but little understood form of energy — gamma radiation. These terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) produce short-lived but immensely powerful bursts of energy that could zap airplane passengers with unhealthy doses of radiation. Now, researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz think they might be able to use a smartphone app to learn more about these mysterious bursts.
14 March 2013
AGU Video: Lightning strike jumps the rails
The famous “kite with key” experiment Ben Franklin conducted in 1752 is more than just a legend for lightning researchers around the world—it’s a procedure. Sure, the kite has been replaced by a rocket, and the string-with-key contraption by a spool of wire, but the intent is still the same—to better understand nature’s flashes of electricity. Recently, an unusual rocket-triggered lightning strike was caught on video by lightning researchers in Florida, and its curious course from cloud to ground is described in a new scientific paper.
6 December 2012
Electrifying new way to potentially predict tornado touchdowns
Tornadoes are being betrayed by their lightning in a way that could help save lives, according to researchers who made an accidental discovery.