Geophysical Research Letters

Sprites over Europe


  • T. Neubert,

  • T. H. Allin,

  • H. Stenbaek-Nielsen,

  • E. Blanc


Results are presented from the first European campaign for observation of sprites, conducted during the summer of 2000 from the French astronomical observatory, Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées. The primary objective was to establish if sprites are generated over Europe and to identify the characteristics of the associated thunderstorms. During the one-month campaign local weather conditions allowed observations approximately half of the nights. Sprites were observed two nights over the Alps and one night over southeastern France in connection with cold fronts moving in from the Atlantic. In all, 40 sprites were recorded, including dancing sprites, multiple carrot sprites and c-sprites. The weather conditions were almost identical during the 3 nights, with the active area forming on the front-side of the cold fronts. The storms are not of the same magnitude as active systems often observed over the North American plains. Even so, sprites seem to be a common occurrence also over Europe.