Spatial distribution and temporal variations of occurrence frequency of lightning whistlers observed by VLF/WBA onboard Akebono



We statistically analyzed lightning whistlers detected from the analog waveform data below 15 kHz observed by the VLF instruments onboard Akebono. We examined the large amount of data obtained at Uchinoura Space Center in Japan for 22 years from 1989 to 2010. The lightning whistlers were mainly observed inside the L shell region below 2. Seasonal dependence of the occurrence frequency of lightning whistlers has two peaks around July to August and December to January. As lightning is most active in summer, in general, these two peaks correspond to summer in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, respectively. Diurnal variation of the occurrence frequency showed that lightning whistlers begin to increase in the early evening and remain at a high-occurrence level through the night with a peak around 21 in magnetic local time (MLT). This peak shifts toward nightside compared with lightning activity, which begins to rise around noon and peaks in the late afternoon. This trend is supposed to be caused by attenuation of VLF wave in the ionosphere in the daytime. Comparison study with the ground-based observation revealed consistent results, except that the peak of the ground-based observation appeared after midnight while our measurements obtained by Akebono was around 21 in MLT. This difference is explained qualitatively in terms that lightning whistlers measured at the ground station passed through the ionosphere twice above both source region and the ground station. These facts provide an important clue to evaluate quantitatively the absorption effect of lightning whistler in the ionosphere.