The interaction with the lower ionosphere of electromagnetic pulses from lightning: Excitation of optical emissions



A self consistent and fully kinetic simulation of the interaction of lightning radiated electromagnetic (EM) pulses with the nighttime lower ionosphere indicates that optical emissions observable with conventional instruments would be excited. For example, emissions of the 1st and 2nd positive bands of N2 occur at rates reaching 7 × 107 and 107 cm−3 s−1 respectively at ∼92 km altitude for a lightning discharge with an electric field E100 = 20 V/m (normalized to a 100 km distance). The maximum height integrated intensities of these emissions are 4 × 107 and 6 × 106 R respectively, lasting for ∼50 µs.