Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 1–41 | Cite as

Energetic Charged Particles Above Thunderclouds

  • Martin Füllekrug
  • Declan Diver
  • Jean-Louis Pinçon
  • Alan D. R. Phelps
  • Anne Bourdon
  • Christiane Helling
  • Elisabeth Blanc
  • Farideh Honary
  • R. Giles Harrison
  • Jean-André Sauvaud
  • Jean-Baptiste Renard
  • Mark Lester
  • Michael Rycroft
  • Mike Kosch
  • Richard B. Horne
  • Serge Soula
  • Stéphane Gaffet


The French government has committed to launch the satellite TARANIS to study transient coupling processes between the Earth’s atmosphere and near-Earth space. The prime objective of TARANIS is to detect energetic charged particles and hard radiation emanating from thunderclouds. The British Nobel prize winner C.T.R. Wilson predicted lightning discharges from the top of thunderclouds into space almost a century ago. However, new experiments have only recently confirmed energetic discharge processes which transfer energy from the top of thunderclouds into the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space; they are now denoted as transient luminous events, terrestrial gamma-ray flashes and relativistic electron beams. This meeting report builds on the current state of scientific knowledge on the physics of plasmas in the laboratory and naturally occurring plasmas in the Earth’s atmosphere to propose areas of future research. The report specifically reflects presentations delivered by the members of a novel Franco-British collaboration during a meeting at the French Embassy in London held in November 2011. The scientific subjects of the report tackle ionization processes leading to electrical discharge processes, observations of transient luminous events, electromagnetic emissions, energetic charged particles and their impact on the Earth’s atmosphere. The importance of future research in this area for science and society, and towards spacecraft protection, is emphasized.


Relativistic Atmospheric Electrodynamics 



This review was prepared for a meeting at the French Embassy in London, November 17–18, 2011, to establish a novel Franco-British collaboration centred on the satellite TARANIS. The invitees are grateful to the French Embassy for sponsoring and hosting this meeting in the most professional way. MF is supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) under grant NE/H024921/1, ADRP is supported by the EPSRC under grant EP/G04239X/1. ChH acknowledges an ERC starting grant from the European Union.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Füllekrug
    • 1
  • Declan Diver
    • 2
  • Jean-Louis Pinçon
    • 3
  • Alan D. R. Phelps
    • 4
  • Anne Bourdon
    • 5
  • Christiane Helling
    • 6
  • Elisabeth Blanc
    • 7
  • Farideh Honary
    • 8
  • R. Giles Harrison
    • 9
  • Jean-André Sauvaud
    • 10
  • Jean-Baptiste Renard
    • 3
  • Mark Lester
    • 11
  • Michael Rycroft
    • 12
  • Mike Kosch
    • 8
    • 13
  • Richard B. Horne
    • 14
  • Serge Soula
    • 15
  • Stéphane Gaffet
    • 16
  1. 1.Department of Electronic and Electrical EngineeringUniversity of BathBathUK
  2. 2.School of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie de l’Environnement et de l’EspaceOrléans Cedex 2France
  4. 4.Department of PhysicsUniversity of StrathclydeGlasgowUK
  5. 5.Laboratoire d’Energétique Moléculaire et Macroscopique, CombustionCNRS, UPR 288Châtenay-MalabryFrance
  6. 6.School of Physics and Astronomy North HaughUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  7. 7.Commissariat à l’Energie AtomiqueLaboratoire de GéophysiqueBruyères le ChâtelFrance
  8. 8.Physics DepartmentLancaster UniversityLancasterUK
  9. 9.Department of MeteorologyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  10. 10.Centre d’Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements/IRAPToulouse Cedex 4France
  11. 11.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  12. 12.CAESAR ConsultancyCambridgeUK
  13. 13.School of PhysicsUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  14. 14.British Antarctic SurveyCambridgeUK
  15. 15.Laboratoire d’AérologieUniversité de Toulouse, CNRSToulouseFrance
  16. 16.Laboratoire Souterrain à Bas Bruit (LSBB)UMS 3538 University of Nice, University of Avignon, CNRSRustrelFrance

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