Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Sprite-Producing Lightning-Ionosphere Coupling and Associated Low-Frequency Phenomena

  • 190 Accesses

  • 3 Citations


Theoretical and experimental evidence is collected for additional ionization regions in the mesosphere above lightning discharges and their connection with transient luminous events (TLE). New insights are reported into the different appearances in the Very Low Frequency (VLF) link traces as affected by the mesospheric ionization regions. Based on these findings, physical processes going on in the ionization regions and their coupling to the primary lightning discharge process are conceptualized. Thereafter, some diagnostic potential is outlined. Finally, the ionization regions are considered as a transmitter of secondary low-frequency waves. The distinction is made between the primary electromagnetic waves emitted by the lightning and the secondary waves. As a consequence the Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) and Ultra Low Frequency (ULF) transient signatures observed on the ground are understood as a composite of both wave types. In addition a novel method is introduced to extract the charge moment change of a sprite producing lightning discharge.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. T. Adachi, H. Fukunishi, Y. Takahashi, M. Sato, Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, L04107 (2004)

  2. T. Adachi, Y. Hikaki, K. Yamamoto, Y. Takahashi et al., J. Phys. D, Appl. Phys. 41, 234010 (2008)

  3. W.C. Armstrong, Antarct. J. USA 18, 281–283 (1983)

  4. R.A. Armstrong, D.M. Suszcynsky, W.A. Lyons, T.E. Nelson, Geophys. Res. Lett. 27(5), 653–656 (2000)

  5. T. Asano, M. Hayakawa, M. Cho, M. Suzuki, J. Geophys. Res. 113, A02308 (2008). doi:10.1029/2007JA012528

  6. T. Asano, M. Suzuki, Y. Hiraki, E. Mareev et al., J. Geophys. Res. 114, A02310 (2009). doi:10.1029/2008JA013651

  7. C.P. Barrington-Leigh, U. Inan, M. Stanley, J. Geophys. Res. 106(A2), 1741–1750 (2001). doi:10.1029/2000JA000073

  8. E.A. Bering III, J.R. Benbrook, J.A. Garrett, A.M. Paredes, E.M. Wescott, D.R. Moudry, D.D. Sentman, H.C. Stenbaek-Nielsen, W.A. Lyons, Geophys. Res. Lett. 29(5) (2002). doi:10.1029/2001GL013267

  9. E.A. Bering III, J.R. Benbrook, L. Bhusal, J.A. Garrett, A.M. Paredes, E.M. Wescott, D.R. Moudry, D.D. Sentman, H.C. Stenbaek-Nielsen, W.A. Lyons, Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, L05104 (2004a). doi:10.1029/2003GL018659

  10. E.A. Bering III, L. Bhusal, J.R. Benbrook, J.A. Garrett, A.P. Jackson, E.M. Wescott, D.R. Moudry, D.D. Sentman, H.C. Stenbaek-Nielsen, W.A. Lyons, Adv. Space Res. 34, 1782–1791 (2004b)

  11. H.-D. Betz, K. Schmidt, P. Oettinger, M. Wirz, J. Geophys. Res. 31, L11108 (2004). doi:10.1029/2004GL019821

  12. L. Bhusal, E.A. Bering III, J.R. Benbrook, J.A. Garrett, A.M. Paredes, E.M. Wescott, D.R. Moudry, D.D. Sentman, H.C. Stenbaek-Nielsen, W.A. Lyons, Adv. Space Res. 34, 1811–1814 (2004)

  13. N. Borisov, A. Gurevich, G. Milikh, Artificially Ionized Region in the Atmosphere (IZMIRAN, Troitsk, 1986) (in Russian)

  14. D.J. Boccippio, E.R. Williams, S.J. Heckman, W. Lyons et al., Science 269, 1088–1091 (1995)

  15. T. Bösinger, A. Mika, S. Shalimov, C. Haldoupis et al., J. Geophys. Res. 111, A10310 (2006). doi:10.1029/2006JA011887

  16. T. Bösinger, S. Shalimov, Space Sci. Rev. 137, 521–532 (2008)

  17. W.J. Burke, T.L. Aggson, N.C. Maynard, W.R. Hoegy et al., J. Geophys. Res. 97, 6359 (1992)

  18. D.L. Carpenter, U.S. Inan, M. Trimpi, R.A. Helliwell et al., J. Geophys. Res. 89(11), 9857–9862 (1984). doi:10.1029/JA089iA11p09857

  19. M. Cho, M. Rycroft, J. Atmos. Sol.-Terr. Phys. 60, 871–888 (1998)

  20. M. Cho, M. Rycroft, J. Atmos. Sol.-Terr. Phys. 63, 559–580 (2001)

  21. S.A. Cummer, U.S. Inan, T.F. Bell, C.P. Barrington-Leigh, Geophys. Res. Lett. 25, 1281–1284 (1998)

  22. S.A. Cummer, M. Füllekrug, Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 495–498 (2001)

  23. M. Dejnakarinta, C.G. Park, J. Geophys. Res. 79, 1903–1910 (1974)

  24. R.L. Dowden, C. Rodger, D. Nunn, IEEE Antennas Propag. Mag. 43(2), 12–24 (2001)

  25. R.C. Franz, R.J. Nemzek, J.R. Winkler, Science 249, 48–51 (1990)

  26. H. Fukunishi, Y. Takahashi, Y. Sato, M. Shono et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 24, 2973–2976 (1997)

  27. M. Füllekrug, A.C. Fraser-Smith, S. Resising, Geophys. Res. Lett. 25, 3497–3500 (1998)

  28. E.A. Gerken, U. Inan, C.P. Barrington-Leigh, Geophys. Res. Lett. 27(17), 2637–2640 (2000). doi:10.1029/2000GL000035

  29. V.S. Glukhov, V. Pasko, U. Inan, J. Geophys. Res. 97(A11), 16,971–16,979 (1992). doi:10.1029/92JA01596

  30. E. Greenberg, C. Price, Y. Yair, C. Haldoupis et al., J. Atmos. Sol.-Terr. Phys. 71, 1254–1266 (2009)

  31. C. Greifinger, P. Greifinger, J. Geophys. Res. 81, 2237–2247 (1976)

  32. C. Haldoupis, T. Neubert, U. Inan, A. Mika et al., J. Geophys. Res. 109, A10303 (2004). doi:10.1029/2004JA010651

  33. C. Haldoupis, R.J. Steiber, A. Mika, S. Shalimov et al., J. Geophys. Res. 111, A11321 (2006). doi:10.1029/2006JA011960

  34. C. Haldoupis, N. Amvrosiadi, B.R.T. Cotts, O.A. van der Velde et al., J. Geophys. Res. 115, A07304 (2010). doi:10.1029/2009JA015165

  35. R.A. Helliwell, J.P. Katsufrakis, M. Trimpi, J. Geophys. Res. 78(22), 4679–4688 (1973)

  36. Y. Hiraki, H. Fukunishi, J. Geophys. Res. 111, A11305 (2006). doi:10.1029/2006JA011729

  37. R.H. Holzworth, M.C. Kelley, C. Siefring, L. Hale et al., J. Geophys. Res. 90, 9824–9830 (1985)

  38. U.S. Inan, D.L. Carpenter, J. Geophys. Res. 92(4), 3293–3303 (1987). doi:10.1029/JA092iA04p03293

  39. U.S. Inan, D.C. Shafer, W.Y. Yip, R.E. Orvill, J. Geophys. Res. 93(10), 11455–11472 (1988). doi:10.1029/JA093iA10p11455

  40. U.S. Inan, T.F. Bell, J.V. Rodriguez, Geophys. Res. Lett. 18(4), 705–708 (1991). doi:10.1029/91GL00364

  41. U.S. Inan, T. Bell, V. Pasko, D. Sentman et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 22(24), 3461–3464 (1995). doi:10.1029/95GL03507

  42. M.P. Johnson, U. Inan, Geophys. Res. Lett. 27(9), 1391–1394 (2000). doi:10.1029/1999GL010757

  43. M.C. Kelley, C. Siefring, R. Pfaff, P. Kintner et al., J. Geophys. Res. 90, 9815–9823 (1985)

  44. C.L. Kuo, A.B. Chen, J.K. Chou, L.Y. Tsai et al., J. Phys. D, Appl. Phys. 41, 234014 (2008)

  45. J. Li, S. Cummer, W. Lyons, T. Nelson, J. Geophys. Res. 113, D20206 (2008). doi:10.1029/2006JD010008

  46. R.A. Marshall, U. Inan, W.A. Lyons, J. Geophys. Res. 111, D19108 (2006). doi:10.1029/2006JD007219

  47. R.A. Marshall, U.S. Inan, V.S. Glukhov, J. Geophys. Res. 115(1), A00E17 (2010). doi:10.1029/2009JA014469

  48. R.A. Marshall, U.S. Inan, J. Geophys. Res. 115(2), A00E29 (2010). doi:10.1029/2009JA014761

  49. S.B. Mende, H.U. Frey, R.R. Hsu, H.T. Su et al., J. Geophys. Res. 110, A11312 (2005). doi:10.1029/2005JA011064

  50. A. Mika, C. Haldoupis, T. Neubert, R.R. Su et al., Ann. Geophys. 24, 2179–2189 (2006)

  51. R.C. Moore, C.P. Barrington-Leigh, U. Inan, T. Bell, J. Geophys. Res. 108(A10)

  52. J. Morrill, E. Bucsela, C. Siefring, M. Heavner et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 29(10), 100-1-4 (2002). doi:10.1029/2001GL014018

  53. T. Neubert et al., Surv. Geophys. 29, 71–137 (2008)

  54. A. Ohkubo, H. Fukunishi, Y. Takahashi, A. Adachi, Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L04812 (2005). doi:10.1029/2004GL021943

  55. C. Papadopoulos, G. Milikh, A. Gurevich et al., J. Geophys. Res. 98, 17,591–17,596 (1993)

  56. V.P. Pasko, U.S. Inan, Y. Taranenko, T. Bell, Geophys. Res. Lett. 22(4), 365–368 (1995). doi:10.1029/95GL00008

  57. V.P. Pasko, U.S. Inan, T. Bell, Y. Taranenko, J. Geophys. Res. 102(A3), 4529–4562 (1997). doi:10.1029/96JA03528

  58. V.P. Pasko, U.S. Inan, T.F. Bell, S.C. Reising, Geophys. Res. Lett. 18, 3493–3496 (1998)

  59. C. Price et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, L20107 (2004). doi:10.1029/2004GL020711

  60. V. Rakov, M. Uman, Lightning: Physics and Effects (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 2003)

  61. C.J. Rodger, M. Cho, M.A. Clilverd, M.J. Rycroft, Geophys. Res. Lett. 28(2), 199–202 (2001)

  62. C. Rodger, Rev. Geophys. 37(3), 317–336 (1999)

  63. J.V. Rodrigues, U.S. Inan, T.F. Bell, Geophys. Res. Lett. 19(10), 2067–2070 (1992). doi:10.1029/92GL02379

  64. R.A. Roussel-Dupre, E. Blanc, J. Geophys. Res. 102(A3), 4613–4622 (1997)

  65. H.L. Rowland, R.F. Fernsler, J.D. Huba, P.A. Bernhardt, Geophys. Res. Lett. 22(4), 361–364 (1995)

  66. H.L. Rowland, R.F. Fernsler, P.A. Bernhardt, J. Geophys. Res. 101(A4), 7935–7945 (1996)

  67. A. Schekotov, V. Pilipenko, K. Shiokava, E. Fedorov, Earth Planets Space 63, 1–10 (2011)

  68. S. Shalimov, Cosmic Res. (2011, accepted)

  69. S. Shalimov, T. Bösinger, J. Atmos. Sol.-Terr. Phys. 68, 814–820 (2006)

  70. A.I. Sukhorukov, J. Atmos. Sol.-Terr. Phys. 58(15), 1711–1720 (1996)

  71. A.I. Sukhorukov, E.A. Rudenchik, P. Stubbe, Geophys. Res. Lett. 23(21), 2911–2914 (1996)

  72. Y.N. Taranenko, U.S. Inan, T.F. Bell, Geophys. Res. Lett. 20(15), 1539–1542 (1993). doi:10.1029/93GL01696

  73. J.N. Thomas, R.H. Holzworth, M.P. McCarthy, O. Pinto Jr., Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L22807 (2005). doi:10.1029/2005GL024629

  74. J.N. Thomas, B.H. Barnum, E. Lay, R.H. Holzworth, M. Cho, M.C. Kelley, J. Geophys. Res. 113, A12306 (2008). doi:10.1029/2008JA013567

  75. M.A. Uman, The Lightning Discharge, San Diego (1987)

  76. S.A. Yashunin, E. Mareev, V. Rakov, J. Geophys. Res. 112, D10109 (2007). doi:10.1029/2006JD007631

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to S. L. Shalimov.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shalimov, S.L., Bösinger, T. Sprite-Producing Lightning-Ionosphere Coupling and Associated Low-Frequency Phenomena. Space Sci Rev 168, 517–531 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-011-9812-x

Download citation


  • Lightning
  • Transient luminous events
  • Electromagnetic emission
  • Atmospheric-ionospheric-magnetospheric-coupling
  • ULF
  • ELF
  • VLF