The mapped patterns o f lightning appear to reveal bipolar structures 100 km or more long, many times larger than individual storms, three atmospheric scientists report in a new study. A fuller understanding of the structures could lead to improved forecasting of dangerous electrical storms.
The paper, by Richard Orville, Ronald Henderson, and Lance Bosart of the State University of New York at Albany (SUNYA), will be published in the February issue of Geophysical Research Letters. The scientists based their conclusions on records from networks of magnetic lightning detectors that together cover nearly 75% of the United States. The ability to look at lightning on a regional scale by combining observations from local networks made the wide-ranging study possible.