Space Science Reviews

, Volume 137, Issue 1–4, pp 521–532 | Cite as

On ULF Signatures of Lightning Discharges

  • T. Bösinger
  • S. L. Shalimov


Recent works on magnetic signatures due to distant lightning discharges are reviewed. Emphasis is laid on magnetic signatures in the ULF range (in the old definition from less than 1 mHz up to 1 Hz), that is in the frequency range below the Schumann resonance. These signatures are known to be of importance for the excitation of the ionospheric Alfvén resonator (IAR) which works only at night time conditions. This emphasizes the difference between night and day time ULF signatures of lightning. The IAR forms a link between the atmosphere and magnetosphere. Similarities and differences of this link in the VLF (Trimpi effect) and ULF range are worked out. A search for a unique signature of sprite-associated positive cloud-to-ground (+CG) lightning discharges ended with a negative result. In this context, however, a new model of lightning-associated induced mesospheric currents was built. Depending on mesospheric condition it can produce magnetic signatures in the entire frequency range from VLF, ELF to ULF. In the latter case it can explain signatures known as the Ultra Slow Tail of +CG lightning discharges. A current problem on the magnetic background noise intensity has been solved by taking more seriously the contribution of +CG lightning discharges to the overall background noise. Their low occurrence rate is more than compensated by their large and long lasting continuing currents. By superposed epoch analysis it could be shown that the ULF response to CG is one to two orders smaller that in case of +CG with similar peak current values of the return stroke.


Lightning Plasma ULF magnetic fields MHD Cavity resonances Atmospheric-magnetospheric coupling 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical SciencesUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Institute of Physics of the EarthRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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