We report the global transient luminous event (TLE) distributions and rates based on the Imager of Sprites and Upper Atmospheric Lightning (ISUAL) experiment onboard the FORMOSAT-2 satellite. ISUAL observations cover 45°S to 25°N latitude during the northern summer and 25°S to 45°N latitude during the northern winter. From July 2004 to June 2007, ISUAL recorded 5,434 elves, 633 sprites, 657 halos, and 13 gigantic jets. Surprisingly, elve is the dominant type of TLEs, while sprites/halos are a distant second. Elve occurrence rate jumps as the sea surface temperature exceeds 26 degrees Celsius, manifesting an ocean-atmosphere-ionosphere coupling. In the ISUAL survey, elves concentrate over the Caribbean Sea, South China Sea, east Indian Ocean, central Pacific Ocean, west Atlantic Ocean, and southwest Pacific Ocean; while sprites congregate over central Africa, Japan Sea, and west Atlantic Ocean. The ISUAL experiment observed global rates of 3.23, 0.50, 0.39, and 0.01 events per minute for elves, sprites, halos, and gigantic jets, respectively. Taking the instrumental detection sensitivity and the restricted survey area into account, the corrected global occurrence rates for sprites and elves likely are a factor of two and an order of magnitude higher, respectively. ISUAL observations also indicate that the relative frequency of high peak current lightning (>80 kA) is 10 times higher over the oceans than over the land. On the basis of the corrected ISUAL elve global occurrence rate, the total electron content at the lower ionosphere above elve hot zones was computed to be elevated by more than 5%.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Space and Planetary Science