Journal article

Lightning Electromagnetic Fields at Very Close Distances Associated with Lightning Strikes to the Gaisberg Tower

In this paper we present and discuss measurements of electric (vertical and radial) and magnetic fields from leaders and return strokes associated with lightning strikes to the 100 m tall Gaisberg tower in Austria obtained in 2007 and 2008. The fields were measured at a distance of about 20 m from the tower. Simultaneously, return stroke currents were also measured at the top of the tower. The data include, for the first time at such close distances, simultaneous records of vertical and horizontal electric fields. The vertical electric field waveforms appeared as asymmetrical V-shaped pulses. The initial, relatively slow, negative electric field change is due to the downward leader, and the following, fast, positive electric field change is due to the upward return stroke phase of the lightning discharge. The horizontal (radial) electric field due to the leader phase has a waveshape similar to that of the vertical electric field. However, the horizontal field due to the return stroke is characterized by a short negative pulse of the order of 1 mu s or so, starting with a fast negative excursion followed by a positive one. The return stroke vertical electric field changes appear to be significantly smaller than similar measurements obtained using triggered lightning. This finding confirms the shadowing effect of the tower, which results in a significant decrease of the electric field at distances of about the height of the tower or less. The vertical and horizontal E field changes due to the return stroke were also found to be larger on average than the leader electric field changes. In a significant number of cases (33%), the vertical electric field waveforms due to the return stroke were characterized by a first peak exceeding the typical late-time flattening due to the electrostatic term. This is in contrast with similar measurements related to triggered lightning which do not exhibit such a first peak. About one quarter of the measured vertical electric field waveforms (18 pulses out of 76) featured an unusual waveform characterized by a positive leader field change followed by a bipolar return stroke field change with a zero crossing time of about 60 mu s.


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