Determination of the Global-Average Charge Moment of a Lightning Flash Using Schumann Resonances and the LIS/OTD Lightning Data

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres


©2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. In this paper, we use (1) the 20 year record of Schumann resonance (SR) signals measured at West Greenwich Rhode Island, USA, (2) the 19 year Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS)/Optical Transient Detector (OTD) lightning data, and (3) the normal mode equations for a uniform cavity model to quantify the relationship between the observed Schumann resonance modal intensity and the global-average vertical charge moment change M (C km) per lightning flash. This work, by integrating SR measurements with satellite-based optical measurements of global flash rate, accomplishes this quantification for the first time. To do this, we first fit the intensity spectra of the observed SR signals to an eight-mode, three parameter per mode, (symmetric) Lorentzian line shape model. Next, using the LIS/OTD lightning data and the normal mode equations for a uniform cavity model, we computed the expected climatological-daily-average intensity spectra. We then regressed the observed modal intensity values against the expected modal intensity values to find the best fit value of the global-average vertical charge moment change of a lightning flash (M) to be 41 C km per flash with a 99% confidence interval of ±3.9 C km per flash, independent of mode. Mode independence argues that the model adequately captured the modal intensity, the most important fit parameter herein considered. We also tested this relationship for the presence of residual modal intensity at zero lightning flashes per second and found no evidence that modal intensity is significantly different than zero at zero lightning flashes per second, setting an upper limit to the amount of nonlightning contributions to the observed modal intensity.

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