Physics of lightning: new model approaches and prospects of the satellite observations
L.M. Zelenyib aFederal Research Center Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Ulyanova 46, Nizhny Novgorod, 603000, Russian Federation bSpace Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Profsoyuznaya str. 84/32, Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation cNational Research University Higher School of Economics, ul. Myasnitskaya 20, Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation
The fundamental problems of lightning physics are reviewed and recent advances in the instrumental (primarily satellite) detection of atmospheric discharge phenomena are discussed. The formation of plasma spots with parameters necessary for the initiation and development of a lightning discharge in a thundercloud is considered as a nonequilibrium phase transition induced by electrostatic noise. The noise is caused by the collective dynamics of charged hydrometeors, i. e., ice particles and water drops suspended in a convective flow. The interaction of plasma formations and their polarization in a large-scale intracloud electric field cause efficient generation of streamers whose description in terms of random graphs and percolation theory forms the basis for the phenomenological representation of discharge as a fractal dissipative structure. This approach enables a number of key thunderstorm electricity problems to be solved, including the lightning initiation mechanism in essentially sub-threshold electric fields, the properties and morphology of various types of lightning discharges, and the self-consistent description of the broadband electromagnetic radiation they emit. Prospects for the further development of the model are discussed and the role of forthcoming satellite experiments in the observation of intense electromagnetic radiation from thunderstorm clouds is examined.
Keywords: atmospheric electricity, physics of lightning, satellite observations of lightning discharges PACS:92.60.Pw, 93.85.+q (all) DOI:10.3367/UFNe.2017.04.038221 URL: https://ufn.ru/en/articles/2018/8/e/ Citation: Iudin D I, Davydenko S S, Gotlib V M, Dolgonosov M S, Zelenyi L M "Physics of lightning: new model approaches and prospects of the satellite observations" Phys. Usp.61 766–778 (2018)