Electrostatic modeling of intracloud stepped leader electric fields and mechanisms of terrestrial gamma ray flashes

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    Abstract

    Understanding of electric field configurations created by long intracloud (IC) stepped leaders is of significant interest for understanding how these events produce bursts of high-energy photons in the Earth's atmosphere, commonly referred to as terrestrial gamma ray flashes (TGFs). In the present work modeling results using the electrostatic moment method solutions are used for quantitative interpretation of electric fields observed at close ∼200 m and long ∼30 km ranges from IC stepped leaders. The modeling results are consistent with the existence and continuous advancement of VHF-dark positive leaders at the positive end of the bidirectional leader system. It is demonstrated that the electric dipole moment of the entire leader system is a quadratic function of the leader length, and the dipole moment changes due to the leader steps increase proportionally to the overall leader length (i.e., even when step length remains constant), in good agreement with observations. The results indicate that the dipole moment changes on the order of tens of C km and current moment changes on the order of tens of kA km, that have been associated with TGFs, are essential attributes of long IC stepped leaders and directly follow from their intrinsic large-scale charge dynamics. Key Points Results provide evidence of VHF-dark positive leaders in bidirectional system Dipole moment of the leader system is a quadratic function of the leader length Current moment changes tens of kA km in TGFs are attributes of IC leaders

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)179-185
    Number of pages7
    JournalGeophysical Research Letters
    Volume41
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 16 2014

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Geophysics
    • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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