Lightning paths in sky share similarities with channel networks on Earth



Lightning in the atmosphere is a transient, high current carrying electric discharge. It occurs when some region of the atmosphere reaches an electric charge sufficiently large so that the electric fields associated with the charge cause an electrical breakdown in the air. Lightning is produced in the cumulonimbus clouds; however, it can also occur in snowstorms and sandstorms.

The analysis presented in this article demonstrates that there are many similarities between the celestial networks that are formed during a lightning event and the terrestrial channel networks associated with flowing surface waters in drainage basins. It begins with a preliminary analysis of the paths followed by the cloud-to-ground discharge of electric currents generated in the atmosphere during thunderstorms.