Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Discharge height of lightning narrow bipolar events

Authors

  • Ting Wu,

    1. Laboratory of Lightning Physics and Protection Engineering, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
    2. Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
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  • Wansheng Dong,

    1. Laboratory of Lightning Physics and Protection Engineering, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Yijun Zhang,

    1. Laboratory of Lightning Physics and Protection Engineering, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Tsuyoshi Funaki,

    1. Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
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  • Satoru Yoshida,

    1. Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
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  • Takeshi Morimoto,

    1. Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
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  • Tomoo Ushio,

    1. Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
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  • ZenIchiro Kawasaki

    1. Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
    2. Electronics, Communications and Computer Science Engineering, Egypt–Japan University of Science and Technology, Alexandria, Egypt
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Abstract

[1] Discharge heights of thousands of narrow bipolar events (NBEs) observed in Guangzhou and Chongqing of China are calculated using time delays between the direct wave signals of NBEs and their ionospheric reflection pairs. The result shows that most positive NBEs occur between 8 and 16 km while most negative NBEs occur between 16 and 19 km. Very few negative NBEs are above 19 km or below 14 km. It is inferred that positive NBEs are produced between main negative charge layer and upper positive charge layer while negative NBEs are produced between upper positive charge layer and negative screening charge layer at the cloud top. Variations of NBE discharge heights in two thunderstorms are analyzed. It seems that NBEs can be produced at any position between corresponding charge layers. Positive NBEs are generally higher in the periods when negative NBEs are also occurring. For a given short time period in a single thunderstorm, negative NBEs are always observed to occur at a higher altitude than positive NBEs, indicating a dividing charge layer between positive NBEs and negative NBEs. The possibility of some NBEs as upward discharges from cloud tops mentioned by previous studies is discussed. Supported by multiple evidences, we believe such possibility is very low; instead, NBEs are produced in vigorous convective surges that develop to the height comparable to the discharge height of NBEs. Differences in height distributions in Guangzhou and Chongqing are analyzed and a hypothesis is put forward that both positive NBEs and negative NBEs can only be produced above certain height. The relationship between this hypothesis and the mechanism for NBE production is discussed.

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