EGU2020-22263, updated on 12 Jun 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Analysis of the lightning flashes associated with very large and luminous sprites in Western Europe

Serge Soula1, Janusz Mlynarczyk2, Andrea Pizzuti3,4, Stéphane Pedeboy5, Eric Gonneau1, Zaida Gomez Kuri1, Oscar van der Velde6, Joan Montanya6, Thomas Farges7, Martin Fullekrug3, Alec Bennet4, Daniel Boyer8, and Alain Cavaillou8
Serge Soula et al.
  • 1Laboratoire d’aérologie, 14 avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
  • 2Department of Electronics, AGH University of Science and Technology, Krakow, Poland
  • 3University of Bath, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Bath, United Kingdom
  • 4Biral Ltd, Bristol, United Kingdom
  • 5Météorage, Pau, France
  • 6Electrical Engineering Department, Technological University of Catalonia, Terrassa, Spain
  • 7CEA, DIF, DAM, Arpajon, France
  • 8LSBB, UMS 3358, CNRS, Rustrel, France

During the last decade, a large number of sprites were observed thanks to low-light video cameras located in southern France, especially at Pic du Midi (2877 m) in the Pyrénées mountain range and at the Albion Plateau (1000 m) in the south-east of France. Sprites are Transient Luminous Events (TLEs) consisting of streamer discharges, that develop at the base of the ionosphere and whose structure, size and brightness are very variable according to the density and the dynamics of these streamers. The largest type is called jellyfish or « A-bomb » sprite, and it corresponds generally to a very impulsive return stroke. Among more than 3000 sprite events in the database, we selected a few cases with large size and very strong light emission. The goal is to determine the characteristics of the flashes that produced them and the storm context in which they occurred. Thus, we analyse the video imagery, the thundercloud structure, the current moment waveform of the lightning strokes, the radiations at various frequencies from the lightning flash. We show that such very bright sprites can occur above thunderstorms at any period of the year. The favourable conditions for their production seem to be stationary thunderstorms and one case of storm produced five of them. All cases of these sprite events are associated with a halo and they are produced with a very short delay after strong positive cloud-to-ground strokes. The peak current of these strokes is about 150 kA in average and their iCMC values can reach close to 2000 C km. The leader processes and the stroke location in the thundercloud are analysed in detail for some cases.

How to cite: Soula, S., Mlynarczyk, J., Pizzuti, A., Pedeboy, S., Gonneau, E., Gomez Kuri, Z., van der Velde, O., Montanya, J., Farges, T., Fullekrug, M., Bennet, A., Boyer, D., and Cavaillou, A.: Analysis of the lightning flashes associated with very large and luminous sprites in Western Europe, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22263,, 2020