X-ray bursts associated with leader steps in cloud-to-ground lightning
Article first published online: 4 JAN 2005
Copyright 2005 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 32, Issue 1, January 2005
How to Cite
2005), X-ray bursts associated with leader steps in cloud-to-ground lightning, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L01803, doi:10.1029/2004GL021782., et al. (
- Issue published online: 4 JAN 2005
- Article first published online: 4 JAN 2005
- Manuscript Accepted: 8 DEC 2004
- Manuscript Revised: 30 NOV 2004
- Manuscript Received: 18 OCT 2004
 X-ray and electric field measurements were made during five nearby negative natural lightning strikes in north central Florida during the summer of 2004. The observed X-ray emission typically was detected ∼1 ms before the first return stroke, during the stepped-leader phase, and had energies extending up to a few hundred keV. The X rays were produced in discrete, intense bursts emitted in coincidence with the formation of the leader steps, demonstrating unambiguously that the source of lightning X rays is closely related to the stepping process. The X-ray emission from lightning stepped leaders is found to be remarkably similar to that from lightning dart leaders, suggesting that these different types of leaders share a common mechanism. The reported observations have important implications for understanding how runaway breakdown occurs and how lightning leaders propagate.