Bitzer to study lightning that sizzles

Earth System Science News

Most cloud-to-ground lightning (about eight of nine) is actually a rapid series of strikes, pop-pop-pop, each lasting a few hundreds of millionths of a second, too fast for our eyes to separate into individual events.

The other one in nine (give or take) creates a channel in the air, through which a lightning current can flow for much longer. In these flashes, the current can flow for tens to thousands of times longer than a normal lightning flash. While that might still be only a few hundredths of a second, this is lightning that makes things sizzle.

UAH’s Phillip Bitzer wants to learn more about lightning that makes things sizzle.

Supported by a grant through NASA’s New Investigator Program, Bitzer and graduate student Sarah Fairman will spend the next three years using new and archival data from satellites and ground sensor networks to probe the how, when and why of…

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