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"Superbolts" – Extreme Lightning a thousand times stronger



  Superbolt's Lightning

"Experimental atmospheric and space physicist Robert Holzworth of the University of Washington said about" Superbolts "bolts, the electrical energy of more than Releasing 1 million joules or a thousand times more energy than an average flash. "At the moment we show that this previously unknown pattern exists."

A study by the University of Washington maps the location and timing of "Superbolts" and shows that they tend to hit the Earth in a fundamentally different way, patterns of regular lightning for reasons that are not fully understood. "It is very unexpected and unusual where and when the very large strokes occur," said lead author Woodworth, who has been following lightning for nearly two decades.

Holzworth leads the World Wide Lightning Location Network, a research consortium managed by UW, which operates around 1

00 light detection stations worldwide from the Antarctic to northern Finland. By knowing exactly when the flash reaches three or more different stations, the network can compare the readings to determine the size and position of a flash.

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The network has been in operation since the early 2000s. For the new study, researchers investigated 2 billion lightning strikes between 2010 and 2018. About 8,000 events – four millionths of a million or one in 250,000 attacks – were confirmed as Superbolts.

We did not have enough data to do this kind of study, "Holzworth said.

The authors compared their network data with lightning observations from Maryland-based Earth Networks and New Zealand's MetService.

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The new paper shows that Superbolts are most prevalent in the Mediterranean, the Northeast Atlantic, and the Andes, with lesser trouble spots east of Japan, in the tropical oceans, and off the tip of South Africa. Unlike normal lightning, the Superbolts tend to hit the water.

"Ninety percent of lightning strikes are overland," said Woodworth. "But superbolts mostly occur over the water, which reaches all the way to the shore. Indeed, one can see the coasts of Spain and England in the Northeast Atlantic, well marked on the maps of the Superbolt distribution. "

" The average impact energy above water is greater than the average impact energy over land – we knew that. "Holzworth said. We did not expect this dramatic difference. "

The season for Superbolts also does not follow the rules for typical lightning: Regular lightning strikes in summer – the three most important so-called" lightning fireplaces "for regular lightning coincide with summer thunderstorms across America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia, but the most common northern hemisphere superbolts hit both hemispheres between November and February.

The reason for the pattern is still puzzling more superbolts than others: the end of 2013 was an all-time high, and the end of 2014 was the next, while other years had far fewer events.

"We think it might be related to sunspots or cosmic rays, but we leave that as a suggestion future research, "said Woodworth. "At the moment we show that this previously unknown pattern exists."

The Daily Galaxy over the University of Washington


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