Electron acceleration above thunderclouds

Martin Füllekrug, Ivana Kolmasova, Ondrej Santolik, Thomas Farges, József Bór, Alec Bennett, Michel Parrot, William Rison, Ferruccio Zanotti, Enrico Arnone, Andrew Mezentsev, Radek Lan, Ludek Uhlir, Giles Harrison, Serge Soula, Oscar Van Der Velde, Jean Louis Pinçon, Christiane Helling, Declan Diver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


The acceleration of electrons results in observable electromagnetic waves which can be used for remote sensing. Here, we make use of ∼4 Hz-66 MHz radio waves emitted by two consecutive intense positive lightning discharges to investigate their impact on the atmosphere above a thundercloud. It is found that the first positive lightning discharge initiates a sprite where electrons are accelerated during the exponential growth and branching of the sprite streamers. This preconditioned plasma above the thundercloud is subsequently exposed to a second positive lightning discharge associated with a bouncing-wave discharge. This discharge process causes a re-brightening of the existing sprite streamers above the thundercloud and initiates a subsequent relativistic electron beam.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035027
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013



  • atmospheric electricity
  • electromagnetic wave propagation
  • lightning
  • storms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Füllekrug, M., Kolmasova, I., Santolik, O., Farges, T., Bór, J., Bennett, A., Parrot, M., Rison, W., Zanotti, F., Arnone, E., Mezentsev, A., Lan, R., Uhlir, L., Harrison, G., Soula, S., Van Der Velde, O., Pinçon, J. L., Helling, C., & Diver, D. (2013). Electron acceleration above thunderclouds. Environmental Research Letters, 8(3), [035027]. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035027