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No. 72: Nov-Dec 1990

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Upwardly directed lightning from cloud tops

"An image of an unusual luminous electrical discharge over a thunderstorm 250 kilometers from the observing site has been obtained with a low-light-level television camera. The discharge began at the cloud tops at 14 kilometers and extended into the clear air 20 kilometers higher. The image, which had a duration of less than 30 milliseconds, resembled two jets or fountains and was probably caused by two localized electric charge concentrations at the cloud tops."
(Franz, R.C., et al; "Television Image of a Large Upward Electrical Discharge above a Thunderstorm System," Science, 249:48, 1990.)

Comment. Note that the above discharges were diffuse and quite unlike most cloud-to-ground lightning discharges. They were, in fact, much like the mountain-top glows seen along the Andes. Also, one should ask where those "localized electric charge concen trations" came from and why they did not disperse.

Reference, Upwardly directed "rocket lightning" is cataloged in GLL1 in our catalog: Lightning, Auroras. Fuller description here.

From Science Frontiers #72, NOV-DEC 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987