Discharge processes, electric field, and electron energy in ISUAL recorded gigantic jets

Cheng Ling Kuo, J. K. Chou, L. Y. Tsai, A. B. Chen, H. T. Su, R. R. Hsu, S. A. Cummer, H. U. Frey, S. B. Mende, Y. Takahashi, L. C. Lee

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This article reports the first high time resolution measurements of gigantic jets from the Imager of Sprites and Upper Atmospheric Lightning (ISUAL) experiment. The velocity of the upward propagating fully developed jet stage of the gigantic jets was ∼107 m s-1, which is similar to that observed for downward sprite streamers. Analysis of spectral ratios for the fully developed jet emissions gives a reduced E field of 400-655 Td and average electron energy of 8.5-12.3 eV. These values are higher than those in the sprites but are similar to those predicted by streamer models, which implies the existence of streamer tips in fully developed jets. The gigantic jets studied here all contained two distinct photometric peaks. The first peak is from the fully developed jet, which steadily propagates from the cloud top (∼20 km) to the lower ionosphere at ∼90 km. We suggest that the second photometric peak, which occurs ∼lms after the first peak, is from a current wave or potential wave-enhanced emissions that originate at an altitude of ∼50 km and extend toward the cloud top. We propose that the fully developed jet serves as an extension of the local ionosphere and produces a lowered ionosphere boundary. As the attachment processes remove the charges, the boundary of the local ionosphere moves up. The current in the channel persists and its contact point with the ionosphere moves upward, which produces the upward surging trailing jets. Imager and photometer data indicate that the lightning activity associated with the gigantic jets likely is in-cloud, and thus the initiation of the gigantic jets is not directly associated with cloud-to-ground discharges.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA04314
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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