An overview of the general phenomenology and physical mechanism of large-scale electrical discharges termed 'sprites' observed at high altitude in the Earth's atmosphere above thunderstorms is presented. The primary emphasis is placed on summarizing available experimental data on various emissions documented to date from sprites and interpretation of these emissions in the context of similar data obtained from laboratory discharges, in particular the pulsed corona discharges, which are believed to be the closest pressure-scaled laboratory analogue of sprite discharges at high altitude. We also review some of the recent results on modelling of laboratory and sprite streamers emphasizing the importance of the photoionization effects for the understanding of the observed morphological features of streamers at different pressures in air and provide a comparison of emissions obtained from streamer models with results of recent satellite-based observations of sprites.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics