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What Causes Lightning

Posted by The New N Used Link Team on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 Under: Environment

Lightning is one thing we hate when the rain falls, it is frightening and dangerous. People say God is responsible for lightening and scientist as proven otherwise, so lets go deeper into the causes and ways to protect ourselves from it. Lightning is a massive electrostatic discharge between electrically charged regions within clouds, or between a cloud and the Earth's surface. The charged regions within the atmosphere temporarily equalize themselves through a lightning flash, commonly referred to as a strike if it hits an object on the ground. There are three primary types; from a cloud to itself (intra-cloud or IC); from one cloud to another cloud (CC) and finally between a cloud and the ground (CG). Although lightning is always accompanied by the sound of thunder, distant lightning may be seen but be too far away for the thunder to be heard. Many factors affect the frequency, distribution, strength, and physical properties of a "typical" lightning flash to a particular region of the world.
These factors include ground elevation, latitude, prevailing wind currents, relative humidity, proximity to warm and cold bodies of water, etc. To a certain degree, the ratio between IC, CC and CG lightning may also vary by season in middle latitudes. Lightning primarily occurs when warm air is mixed with colder air masses resulting in atmospheric disturbances necessary for polarizing the atmosphere. However, it can also occur during dust storms, forest fires, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and even in the cold of winter, where the lightning is known as thundersnow. Hurricanes typically generate some lightning, mainly in the rainbands as much as 160 km (100 mi) from the center. Objects struck by lightning experience heat and magnetic forces of great magnitude. The heat created by lightning currents traveling through a tree may vaporize its sap, causing a steam explosion that bursts the trunk.
As lightning travels through sandy soil, the soil surrounding the plasma channel may melt, forming tubular structures called fulgurites. Humans or animals struck by lightning may suffer severe injury or even death due to internal organ and nervous system damage. Buildings or tall structures hit by lightning may be damaged as the lightning seeks unintended paths to ground. By safely conducting a lightning strike to ground, a lightning protection system can greatly reduce the probability of severe property damage. Lightning is also human related for example:
  • Airplane contrails have also been observed to influence lightning to a small degree. The water vapor dense contrails of airplanes may provide a lower resistance pathway through the atmosphere having some influence upon the establishment of an ionic pathway for a lightning flash to follow.
  • Rocket exhaust plumes provided a pathway for lightning when it was witnessed striking the Apollo 12 rocket shortly after takeoff.
Thermonuclear explosions by providing extra material for electrical conduction and a very turbulent localized atmosphere, have been seen triggering lightning flashes within the mushroom cloud. In addition, intense gamma radiation from large nuclear explosions may develop intensely charged regions in the surrounding air through Compton scattering. The intensely charged space charge regions create multiple clear-air lightning discharges shortly after the device detonates. So despite the fears we have, we also add to the cause and there are ways to reduce this effects on us. In some countries people worship lightning but i will get into that another time.

In : Environment 

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