Characteristics of Upward Lightning Flashes

In addition to the general aims of lightning research such as lightning physics and meteorology, the study of upward lightning is of particular importance in protection of tall objects such as wind turbines and telecommunication towers. It also helps us in better understanding the lightning initiation process and its role in the earth- atmosphere electrical balance. Within this context, this thesis presents an analysis on various aspects of upward lightning discharge (negative, positive, bipolar) using experimental observation and theoretical modeling for better understanding of its initial stage, the propagation of its electromagnetic field along irregular terrain and its interaction with the ionosphere. Our investigation on the superimposed impulsive components of the initial stage of upward negative flashes revealed that they can transfer net negative charges to ground by both M-component and return stroke modes of charge transfer, which can be distinguished by their associated electric field signature. Moreover, we investigated the ability of Lightning Location Systems (LLSs) to locate and detect upward negative flashes. Different aspects of upward negative flashes which might affect the evaluation performance of LLSs were discussed. It is found that LLSs tend to overestimate the peak current values of RS pulses of upward negative flashes. Using full-wave numerical simulation, it is demonstrated that this overestimation is mainly due to electric field enhancement by wave propagation along mountainous terrain around Säntis Tower. Using simultaneous channel-base current and electric field records of upward positive flashes, we observed that two types of pulsations can be distinguished during the course of progression of upward negative leaders which are very similar to ¿Classical PBPs¿ and ¿Narrow PBPs¿ of the initial stage of downward negative leaders suggesting a general similarity between upward and downward negative leaders. We present and discuss current waveforms associated with 13 bipolar flashes recorded at the Säntis Tower during the period from June 2010 to January 2015. We have found two flashes of our data base each characterized by a sequence of two upward leaders of opposite polarity within the same flash, a scenario that has never been reported from previous observations at instrumented towers. The obtained results suggest that the traditional classification of bipolar flashes should be revisited. We present simultaneous channel-base current and wideband electric field waveforms at 380 km distance from the strike point associated with upward flashes initiated from the Säntis Tower. The dataset presented in this study represents, to the best of the Author¿s knowledge, the first simultaneous records of lightning currents and distant fields associated with natural upward flashes featuring ionospheric reflections. The data are used to infer the characteristics of the ionospheric layers. We present a full-wave 2D FDTD analysis of the field propagation including the effect of the ionospheric reflections and the results are compared with the experimental data. Furthermore, we present a novel semi-analytical simplified approach based on the ray tracing concept to estimate radiated electric fields associated with lightning return strokes, taking into account ionospheric reflections.

Rachidi-Haeri, Farhad
Paolone, Mario
Lausanne, EPFL

 Record created 2018-01-17, last modified 2019-05-09

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