Optical observations of transient luminous events associated with winter thunderstorms near the coast of Israel

Yoav Yair, Colin Price, Michal Ganot, Eran Greenberg, Roy Yaniv, Baruch Ziv, Yosef Sherez, Adam Devir, J. Bór, G. Sátori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We report the results of two observation campaigns conducted during the Northern Hemisphere winters of 2005-6 and 2006-7 aiming to detect transient luminous events (TLEs) above winter thunderstorms in the vicinity of Israel and the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. In 10 out of 31 different observation nights we detected 66 events: 56 sprites and 10 Elves. The detection ranges varied from 250 to 450 km. Sprites were found to be produced by active cells with a vertical dimension of 5-9 km and cloud top temperature ~ - 40 °C, embedded in a much larger matrix of stratiform precipitating cloudiness. This configuration closely resembles the conditions for winter sprites in the Hokuriku region of Japan. Synchronized with the optical observations, ELF data were recorded at two observation stations in Israel and Hungary in order to qualify and quantify parameters of the parent lightning discharge associated with the TLEs. These stations are located 500 km and 2100 km respectively from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, where most TLEs occur. Among the optically observed TLE events, we found that all the ELF signals were produced solely by positive cloud-to-ground flashes (+ CGs), most of which were recorded in Israel (88%) and Hungary (77%). Calculation of the Charge Moment Change showed average values of 1400 ± 600 C km, with some extreme events exceeding 3500 C km. The average time delay between the ELF transient of the parent + CG and the observed sprites was 55 ms, with shorter delays for column sprites (42 ± 34 ms) compared to carrot sprites (68 ± 34). Furthermore, based on the ELF data, there were no early identifiable precursors to TLE occurrence in the regional lightning activity. From the spatial formation of the observed columniform sprites, we propose that columniform sprites are sometimes arranged in a 3-dimensional circular pattern, thus mapping the instantaneous electric field in the mesosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-537
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Research
Volume91
Issue number2-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009

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sprite
thunderstorm
coast
winter
lightning
extreme event
mesosphere
cloud cover
electric field
Northern Hemisphere
matrix

Keywords

  • Charge Moment Change
  • Eastern Mediterranean
  • ELF
  • Elves
  • Sprites
  • Winter thunderstorms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

Optical observations of transient luminous events associated with winter thunderstorms near the coast of Israel. / Yair, Yoav; Price, Colin; Ganot, Michal; Greenberg, Eran; Yaniv, Roy; Ziv, Baruch; Sherez, Yosef; Devir, Adam; Bór, J.; Sátori, G.

In: Atmospheric Research, Vol. 91, No. 2-4, 02.2009, p. 529-537.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Yair, Yoav ; Price, Colin ; Ganot, Michal ; Greenberg, Eran ; Yaniv, Roy ; Ziv, Baruch ; Sherez, Yosef ; Devir, Adam ; Bór, J. ; Sátori, G. / Optical observations of transient luminous events associated with winter thunderstorms near the coast of Israel. In: Atmospheric Research. 2009 ; Vol. 91, No. 2-4. pp. 529-537.
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