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Regular version of the site

Article

Observations of the connection of positive and negative leaders in meter-scale electric discharges generated by clouds of negatively charged water droplets

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES. 2016. Vol. 121. No. 16. P. 9756-9766.
Kostinskiy A., Syssoev V., Bogatov N., Mareev E., Andreev M., Bulatov M., Sukharevsky D., Makal'sky L., Rakov V.

Detailed observations of the connection between positive and negative leaders in meter-scale electric discharges generated by clouds of negatively charged water droplets are presented, and their possible implications for the attachment process in lightning are discussed. Optical images obtained with three different high-speed cameras (visible range with image enhancement, visible-range regular, and infrared) and corresponding current recordings were used. Two snapshots of the breakthrough phase of the leader connection, showing significant leader branching inside the common streamer zone, are presented for the first time. Positive and negative leader speeds inside the common streamer zone for two events were found to be similar. Higher leader speeds were generally associated with higher leader currents. In the case of head-to-head leader connection, the infrared brightness of the junction region (probably representing the gas temperature and, hence, the energy input) was typically a factor of 5 or so higher than for channel sections either below or above that region. In 16% of cases, the downward negative leader connected to the upward positive leader below its tip (attached to the lateral surface of the positive leader), with the connection being accomplished via a channel segment that appeared to be perpendicular to one or both of the leader channels.