Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Are lightning M components capable of initiating sprites and sprite halos?



[1] The role of the M component mode of charge transfer to ground in lightning discharges in initiating sprites and sprite halos is examined. M components (surges superimposed on lightning continuing currents) serve to enhance the electric field at high altitudes and, as a result, may increase the probability of sprite (halo) initiation. It appears that occurrence of an M component shifts electric field maximum from the axis of the vertical lightning channel and therefore increases the likelihood of initiation of sprites displaced from the channel axis. Since M components follow return strokes after a time interval of a few milliseconds or more, they may be primary producers of so-called delayed sprites.