Electron acceleration above thunderclouds

Martin Fuellekrug*, Ivana Kolmasova, Ondrej Santolik, Thomas Farges, Jozsef Bor, Alec Bennett, Michel Parrot, William Rison, Ferruccio Zanotti, Enrico Arnone, Andrew Mezentsev, Radek Lan, Ludek Uhlir, Giles Harrison, Serge Soula, Oscar van der Velde, Jean-Louis Pincon, Christiane Helling, Declan Diver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


The acceleration of electrons results in observable electromagnetic waves which can be used for remote sensing. Here, we make use of similar to 4 Hz-66 MHz radio waves emitted by two consecutive intense positive lightning discharges to investigate their impact on the atmosphere above a thundercloud. It is found that the first positive lightning discharge initiates a sprite where electrons are accelerated during the exponential growth and branching of the sprite streamers. This preconditioned plasma above the thundercloud is subsequently exposed to a second positive lightning discharge associated with a bouncing-wave discharge. This discharge process causes a re-brightening of the existing sprite streamers above the thundercloud and initiates a subsequent relativistic electron beam.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035027
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2013


  • Atmospheric electricity
  • Lightning
  • Electromagnetic wave propagation
  • Storms
  • Gamma-ray flashes
  • Satellite-observations
  • Runaway breakdown
  • Discharges
  • Precipitation
  • Beams
  • Field


Dive into the research topics of 'Electron acceleration above thunderclouds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this