General, Research, Technology

How long can lightning reach?

Every summer we manage several timesobserve a slightly frightening, but at the same time very bewitching phenomenon - thunderstorms, which are accompanied by thunder and bright lightning. Electrical discharges that are emitted by thunderclouds attract the attention of many photographers, but flashes disappear very quickly after occurrence. On average, people with cameras have only 025 seconds to take a beautiful shot. However, in history there are several officially proven cases where lightning traveled a very long distance and flashes from them did not die out for a relatively long time. Recently, representatives of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that they were able to fix new records for the length and duration of lightning. The presented indicators, without exaggeration, are impressive.

Once upon a time it was believed that lightning was the work of enraged gods.

Extreme natural phenomena

My longest lightning was told by mycolleague Artem Sutyagin in an article about the causes of electric discharges in the sky. The longest lightning was recorded by scientists in the Alps - a very long and high ridge that lies entirely in Europe. According to observers for weather events, on August 30, 2012, one of the lightnings did not die out for 7.74 seconds. But the longest lightning was seen on June 20, 2007 in the United States - its length was 321 kilometers.

Somewhere here, in the Alps, the longest lightning was recorded

Meteorological satellites

But we all know perfectly well that technology is notmarking time. Not only smartphones and other electronics are constantly being improved, but also all kinds of equipment for tracking natural phenomena. Today, satellites like GOES-R, which is equipped with a lightning cartographer, are used to monitor lightning. The main task of this tool is to constantly collect information about the frequency and duration of flashes that are caused by electric charges in the Earth’s atmosphere. It can detect flares day and night, regardless of cloud density.

Satellite GOES-R

Also used to track lightningChinese satellites Fengyun, which can be translated as "Wind and cloud." These devices are better known under the acronym FY and have been launched into the orbit of our planet since 1988. Thanks to the data collected, these and similar satellites help humanity predict natural disasters and prevent their devastating consequences.

Fengyun Satellite

New records

So humanity has great toolsto detect long lightning bolts. Recently, meteorologists shared that the above records for the duration and length of lightning have been updated for two years now. The longest lightning is now considered to be an electric discharge that occurred on October 31, 2018 - it stretched from the Atlantic Ocean, passed through the territory of Brazil and reached Argentina. The length of the lightning was 709 kilometers, which is twice as much as the previous record. Nature knows how to surprise!

The longest lightning is shown above, and a little lower - the longest.

But the lightning duration record was broken 4March 2019, in Argentina. Then, during a thunderstorm, lightning arose, which did not fade for 16.73 seconds. This is also an impressive result, because the previous figure was half as much. No one knows about the consequences of these lightning strikes. It is hoped that these are just harmless records of nature and during their installation not a single person was injured.

See also: NASA solved the riddle of hundreds of mysterious outbreaks near the Earth

According to Randall Cerveny,who holds the position of chief WMO rapporteur on extreme events, this news proves what kind of records nature is capable of and how accurately scientists can record them. In his opinion, if the technologies continue to improve, they will be able to tell the world about even more amazing natural phenomena.

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My colleague Artem Sutyagin has one moreAn interesting article in which he listed the most interesting and little-known facts about lightning. You could suggest that the temperature of lightning reaches 30,000 degrees Celsius, which is 5 times hotter than the surface of the Sun. I had no idea about this, so I recommend everyone to get acquainted with the material without exception. Perhaps a thunderstorm will soon begin, and you can tell your friends a lot of interesting things.