Fast Initial Continuous Current Pulses vs Return Stroke Pulses in Tower-initiated Lightning

We present a study focused on pulses superimposed on the initial continuous current of upward negative discharges. The study is based on experimental data consisting of correlated lightning current waveforms recorded at the instrumented Santis Tower in Switzerland and electric fields recorded at a distance of 14.7 km from the tower. Two different types of pulses superimposed on the initial continuous current were identified: (1) M-component-type pulses, for which the microsecond-scale electric field pulse occurs significantly earlier than the onset of the current pulse, and (2) fast pulses, for which the onset of the field matches that of the current pulse. We analyze the currents and fields associated with these fast pulses (return-stroke type (RS-type) initial continuous current (ICC) pulses) and compare their characteristics with those of return strokes. A total of nine flashes containing 44 RS-type ICC pulses and 24 return strokes were analyzed. The median current peaks associated with RS-type ICC pulses and return strokes are, respectively, 3.4 kA and 8 kA. The associated median E-field peaks normalized to 100 km are 1.5 V/m and 4.4 V/m, respectively. On the other hand, the electric field peaks versus current peaks for the two data sets (RS-type ICC pulses and return strokes) are characterized by very similar linear regression slopes, namely, 3.67 V/(mkA) for the ICC pulses and 3.77 V/(mkA) for the return strokes. Assuming the field-current relation based on the transmission line model, we estimated the apparent speed of both the RS-type ICC pulses and return strokes to be about 1.4 x 10(8) m/s. A strong linear correlation is observed between the E-field risetime and the current risetime for the ICC pulses, similar to the relation observed between the E-field risetime and current risetime for return strokes. The similarity of the RS-type ICC pulses with return strokes suggests that these pulses are associated with the mixed mode of charge transfer to ground.

Published in:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 121
Washington, Amer Geophysical Union

 Record created 2016-06-19, last modified 2018-03-17

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