Solar winds increase lightning strikes on earth: Study

Last Updated: Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 14:30

Zee Media Bureau

London: A new study suggests that lightning on earth is triggered by energy particles from the Sun.

Now, researchers at Reading University have discovered a link between increased thunderstorm activity on earth and streams of high-energy particles accelerated by the solar wind - an evidence that particles from space help trigger lightning bolts.

“We have found evidence that high-speed solar wind streams can increase lightning rates. This may be an actual increase in lightning or an increase in the magnitude of lightning, lifting it above the detection threshold of measurement instruments,” explained lead author Chris Scott from University of Reading.
Scott and his team found a significant increase in lightning rates across Europe for up to 40 days after the arrival of high-speed solar winds.

According to the researchers, there was an average of 422 lightning strikes across Europe in the following 40 days after the arrival of a solar wind at the earth against an average of 321 lightning strikes in the 40 days prior to the arrival of the solar wind.

It says that the rate of lightning strikes peaked between 12 and 18 days after the arrival of the solar wind.

These solar winds can travel at more than a million miles per hour into the earth`s atmosphere.

The electrical properties of the air are somehow altered as the incoming charged particles from the solar wind collide with the atmosphere, the researchers proposed.

“The results could prove useful for weather forecasters, since these solar wind streams rotate with the sun, sweeping past the earth at regular intervals, accelerating particles into earth`s atmosphere,” Scott noted.
The research, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, hints at the possibility of predicting hazardous weather in advance as solar activity can be closely tracked by spacecrafts.

With Agency Inputs



First Published: Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 14:28

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