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Title: Compact Intracloud Discharges

Abstract

In November of 1993, mysterious signals recorded by a satellite-borne broadband VHF radio science experiment called Blackboard led to a completely unexpected discovery. Prior to launch of the ALEXIS satellite, it was thought that its secondary payload, Blackboard, would most often detect the radio emissions from lightning when its receiver was not overwhelmed by noise from narrowband communication carriers. Instead, the vast majority of events that triggered the instrument were isolated pairs of pulses that were one hundred times more energetic than normal thunderstorm electrical emissions. The events, which came to be known as TIPPs (for transionospheric pulse pairs), presented a true mystery to the geophysics community. At the time, it was not even known whether the events had natural or anthropogenic origins. After two and one half years of research into the unique signals, two ground-based receiver arrays in New Mexico first began to detect and record thunderstorm radio emissions that were consistent with the Blackboard observations. On two occasions, the ground-based systems and Blackboard even recorded emissions that were produced by the same exact events. From the ground based observations, it has been determined that TIPP events areproduced by brief, singular, isolated, intracloud electrical discharges that occur inmore » intense regions of thunderstorms. These discharges have been dubbed CIDS, an acronym for compact intracloud discharges. During the summer of 1996, ground-based receiver arrays were used to record the electric field change signals and broadband HF emissions from hundreds of CIDS. Event timing that was accurate to within a few microseconds made possible the determination of source locations using methods of differential time of arrival. Ionospheric reflections of signals were recorded in addition to groundwave/line-of-sight signals and were used to determine accurate altitudes for the discharges. Twenty-four CIDS were recorded from three thunderstorms in the southwestern United States (US). The events occurred at altitudes between 8 and 11 km above mean sea level (MSL). Radar reflectivity data from two of the storms showed that CIDS occurred in close spatial proximity to thunderstorm cores with peak radar reflectivities of 47 to 58 dBZ. Over one hundred CIDS were also recorded from tropical cyclone Fausto off the coast of Mexico. These events occurred at altitudes between 15 and 17 km MSL. CIDS are singular discharges that usually occur in temporal isolation from other thunderstorm radio emissions on time scales of at least a few milliseconds. Calculations show that the discharges are vertically oriented and 300 to 1000 m in spatial extent. They produce average currents of several tens to a couple hundred kA for time periods of approximately 15 ps. Based on the results of a charge distribution model, the events occur in thunderstorm regions with charge densities on the order of several tens of nC/m3 and peak electric fields that are greater than 1 x 106 V/m. Both of these values are an order of magnitude greater than values previously measured orinfemed frominsitu thunderstom measurements. Theunique radio emissions from CIDS, in combination with their unprecedented physical characteristics, clearly distinguish the events from other types of previously observed thunderstorm electrical processes.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Defense Programs (DP)
OSTI Identifier:
3547
Report Number(s):
LA-13526-T
TRN: AH200112%%331
DOE Contract Number:  
W-7405-ENG-36
Resource Type:
Thesis/Dissertation
Resource Relation:
Other Information: TH: Thesis; Thesis information not supplied; PBD: 1 Nov 1998
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; CLOUDS; LIGHTNING; INTERACTIONS; STORMS

Citation Formats

Smith, David A. Compact Intracloud Discharges. United States: N. p., 1998. Web. doi:10.2172/3547.
Smith, David A. Compact Intracloud Discharges. United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/3547
Smith, David A. 1998. "Compact Intracloud Discharges". United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/3547. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/3547.
@article{osti_3547,
title = {Compact Intracloud Discharges},
author = {Smith, David A.},
abstractNote = {In November of 1993, mysterious signals recorded by a satellite-borne broadband VHF radio science experiment called Blackboard led to a completely unexpected discovery. Prior to launch of the ALEXIS satellite, it was thought that its secondary payload, Blackboard, would most often detect the radio emissions from lightning when its receiver was not overwhelmed by noise from narrowband communication carriers. Instead, the vast majority of events that triggered the instrument were isolated pairs of pulses that were one hundred times more energetic than normal thunderstorm electrical emissions. The events, which came to be known as TIPPs (for transionospheric pulse pairs), presented a true mystery to the geophysics community. At the time, it was not even known whether the events had natural or anthropogenic origins. After two and one half years of research into the unique signals, two ground-based receiver arrays in New Mexico first began to detect and record thunderstorm radio emissions that were consistent with the Blackboard observations. On two occasions, the ground-based systems and Blackboard even recorded emissions that were produced by the same exact events. From the ground based observations, it has been determined that TIPP events areproduced by brief, singular, isolated, intracloud electrical discharges that occur in intense regions of thunderstorms. These discharges have been dubbed CIDS, an acronym for compact intracloud discharges. During the summer of 1996, ground-based receiver arrays were used to record the electric field change signals and broadband HF emissions from hundreds of CIDS. Event timing that was accurate to within a few microseconds made possible the determination of source locations using methods of differential time of arrival. Ionospheric reflections of signals were recorded in addition to groundwave/line-of-sight signals and were used to determine accurate altitudes for the discharges. Twenty-four CIDS were recorded from three thunderstorms in the southwestern United States (US). The events occurred at altitudes between 8 and 11 km above mean sea level (MSL). Radar reflectivity data from two of the storms showed that CIDS occurred in close spatial proximity to thunderstorm cores with peak radar reflectivities of 47 to 58 dBZ. Over one hundred CIDS were also recorded from tropical cyclone Fausto off the coast of Mexico. These events occurred at altitudes between 15 and 17 km MSL. CIDS are singular discharges that usually occur in temporal isolation from other thunderstorm radio emissions on time scales of at least a few milliseconds. Calculations show that the discharges are vertically oriented and 300 to 1000 m in spatial extent. They produce average currents of several tens to a couple hundred kA for time periods of approximately 15 ps. Based on the results of a charge distribution model, the events occur in thunderstorm regions with charge densities on the order of several tens of nC/m3 and peak electric fields that are greater than 1 x 106 V/m. Both of these values are an order of magnitude greater than values previously measured orinfemed frominsitu thunderstom measurements. Theunique radio emissions from CIDS, in combination with their unprecedented physical characteristics, clearly distinguish the events from other types of previously observed thunderstorm electrical processes.},
doi = {10.2172/3547},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/3547}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {1998},
month = {11}
}

Thesis/Dissertation:
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