Infrasound observations of sprites associated with winter thunderstorms in the eastern mediterranean

David Applbaum, Gil Averbuch, Colin Price, Yoav Yair, Yochai Ben-Horin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sprites are transient luminous events (TLEs) that occur at mesospheric altitudes between 50 and 90 km. They last up to several milliseconds, and are caused mostly by positive lightning discharges from the thunderstorm cells below. Infrasound from sprites was first observed in detail a decade ago by a team from the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), as part of a renewed international interest in infrasound measurements brought about by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) (Farges et al., 2005). They used optical images of sprites obtained during the EuroSprite observation campaign in order to form the temporal and azimuthal basis necessary for searching for the infrasound signatures from these events, which appear as unique “chirp” or “inverted chirp” signatures depending on the sprite's distance from the infrasound array. In this paper we follow this methodology to see if the nascent Israeli infrasound arrays can detect these signals from sprites in the Eastern Mediterranean, for which there are nearly 8 years of winter-time optical observations. We calculated the expected arrival time of the infrasound from optically observed sprites, and then used a basic ray-tracing method in order to confirm that we were in fact able to observe several of these sprites, at various distances, exhibiting both “chirp” and “inverted chirp” signals. We then compared these observations with observations of lightning activity made by the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN).

Original languageEnglish
Article number104770
JournalAtmospheric Research
Volume235
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2020

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