ICAE International Commission on Atmospheric Electricity

ICAE 2003 Versailles

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Wednesday 11th June



Session E1 Middle Atmosphere Electrical Events I

11:00 U. Inan
Keynote: Lightning-Driven Electrodynamics of the Middle Atmosphere
11:30 J. Rai, D. K. Sharma, M. Israil, P. Subrahmanyam, P. Chopra, and S. C. Garg
Effect of lightning on the ionospheric temperatures
11:45 E. Blanc, T. Farges, R. Roche, D. Brebion, and T. Hua
Observations of Lightning and Sprites at the Nadir from the International Space Station
12:00 Y. Hobara, M. Hayakawa, K. Ohta, H. Fukunishi, and E. R. Williams
ELF Transient and Ionospheric Disturbances in Association with Sprites and Elves
12:15 Y. Yair, C. Price, Z. Levin, J. Jospeh, A. Devir, B. Ziv, M. Moalem, P. Israelevich, and S. Clodman
Coordinated Observations of Sprites and other TLE from the Space Shuttle and from the Ground during the MEIDEX


Effect of lightning on the ionospheric temperatures

Jagdish Rai, D. K. Sharma & Mohd. Israil
Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee -247 667 (India)
jgraifph@iitr.ernet.in /Fax: +91-1332-73560

P. Subrahmanyam, P. Chopra & S. C. Garg
Radio and Atmospheric Science Division, National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi


It has been realized in recent years that the ionospheric temperature and ion density may be influenced by lightning. The ionospheric ion densities (O+, O2+, H+ and He+) and electron and ion temperatures were measured by the RPA payload aboard the Indian SROSS-C2 satellite. The data at low latitudes falling in the Indian subcontinent in the height range 425 - 625 km for the period 1995 - 1998 were chosen for this study. Thunderstorms are the main source of lightning (Gupta, 1999; Inan et al, 1991; Otsuyama, 1999). The data on thunderstorm activity for the same period was obtained from India Meteorological Department (IMD). For our analysis the measurements over Bhopal, Panji and Trivandrum were chosen for which the data on thunderstorm activity is also available. Comparison has also been made with IRI model (Bilitza, 1990).

It has been found that the electron temperature was enhanced during thunderstorms activity by 1.4 to 2.3 times over the quite days. A similar enhancement has been found to be 1.2 to 1.7 times in the ion temperature. In all the events the ion density of above ions were found to be unaffected by the thunderstorms activity. It has been argued that the agencies like run-away electrons, UHF emissions from lightning and lightning sprites (Taranenko et al, 1992; Yukhimuk et al 1999; Bell et al, 1995) may cause the increase of ionospheric temperatures.


  • Bilitza D, Adv Space Res, 11 (1990) 47.
  • Gupta S P, Abstract Book on NSSS-1997, (1997) 84.
  • Inan U S, Bell T F & Ridriguez J V, Geophys Res Lett, 18 (1991) 705.
  • Otsuyama T, Hobara Y & Hayakawa M, Proc. Book on 11th International conference on Atmospheric Electricity held at Alabama (USA) (1999) 96.
  • Taranenko Y N, Inan U S & Bell T F, Geophys Res Lett, 19 (1992) 1815.
  • Yukhimuk V, Roussel-Dupre R A & Symbalisty E M D, Geophys Res Lett, 26 (1999) 679.
  • Bell Timothy F, Pasko Victor P, & Inan Umran S, Geophys Res Lett, 22 (1995) 2127-2130.


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ELF Transient and Ionospheric Disturbances in Association with Sprites and Elves

Yasuhide Hobara
LPCE/CNRS, 3A Avenue de la Recherche Scientifique 45071, Orleans, France
+33 238255291
+33 238631234

Masashi Hayakawa
The University of Electro-Communications, Department of Electronic-Engineering 1-5-1, Chofugaoka 182-8585, Tokyo, Japan

Kenji Ohta
Chubu University, Department of Electronic-Engineering, Kasugai 487-8501, Aichi, Japan

Hiroshi Fukunishi
Tohoku University, Department of Astrophysics and Geophysics Sendai, Japan

Earle R. Williams
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Parsons Laboratory, Cambridge MA, 02139, USA


In this paper we present results of our winter lightning campaign especially focused our attention on the phenomena in association with optical emissions (sprites and elves) over Japan sea as a case study. Our measurement consists of ELF Transients observation in Moshiri Hokkaido, VLF perturbation at Kasugai station and lightning information from Japanese lightning Detection Network (JLDN). Optical measurements was operated by Tohoku University.

We analyze quantitatively the results from coordinated measurement and find the clear straightforward relationship between charge transfer of the parent discharge calculated from ELF (f<15 Hz) and the ionospheric disturbances regardless of the types of optical events indicating significant atmosphere-mesosphere-ionosphere coupling. Sprites tend to associate with a large ionospheric disturbance (-13~+4.6 dB) with a large charge moment change (250~875 Ckm), whereas a large lightning peak current (+223~+470 kA) (or slow-tail amplitude) leading to the strong EMP is necessary to initiate elves, but with rather small ionospheric disturbances. Furthermore, the different characteristics between sprite and/or elve producing lightning and other conventional lightning will be discussed.


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Coordinated Observations of Sprites and other TLE from the Space Shuttle and from the Ground during the MEIDEX

Y. Yair, B. Ziv,
The Open University of Israel, Tel-Aviv, Israel

C. Price, Z. Levin, J. Jospeh, A. Devir, P. Israelevich,
Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel

S. Clodman
10 Tangreen Court, apt 1207, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M2M 4B9

M. Moalem,
IAF, Space Branch

Fax +972-3-6465410


We will present early results of Sprite observations conducted during the space shuttle flight STS107 in winter-spring 2003. The 16 days' mission flies in a 39º-inclination orbit, passing over the planets' most active thunderstorm regions. During the night part of 27 orbits, dedicated observations toward the horizon are planned, pointed above areas of active thunderstorms, in an effort to image Sprites and other TLE from space. Observations will consist of a continuous recording of the Earth's limb, from the direction of the dusk terminator while flying towards the night side. Most observations are planned to be carried out over Southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific Ocean. While earlier shuttle flights have succeeded in recording several mesospheric discharges by using cargo-bay video cameras (Boeck et al., 1995), MEIDEX offers a unique opportunity to conduct targeted observations with a calibrated, image-intensified multispectral instrument.

The main science instrument is Xybion IMC-201 camera with 6 narrow band filters, housed inside a pressurized canister with a quartz window with BBAR coating. The Xybion IMC-201 camera has a rectangular FOV of 14.04(H) x 10.76 (V) degrees, which covers a volume of 466km (H) x 358km (V) at the Earth's limb, 1900km away from the shuttle. The spatial resolution will be 665m (H) x 745m (V) per pixel, enabling us to resolve some structural features of TLE. Optical observations from space will be conducted with the 665nm filter that matches the observed wide peak centered at 670nm that typifies red sprites and elves, and also with the 380 and 470nm filters to record blue jets. An additional Low-Light wide-FOV color video camera was used as a viewfinder. Areas of highly active convection centers are forecasted and uplinked to the crew, to adjust pointing and shuttle attitude.

Simultaneous to the shuttle observations, electromagnetic measurements in the VLF and ELF ranges are conducted from several stations in Israel, Europe, Japan and the US, so as to enable the geo-location of the parent lightning discharge (Price et al., 2002).


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