Auroral arcs

Polar wind






Atmospheric electricity

Discovered in the early 1990s, sprites, jets and elves, also referred to as “Transient Luminous Events (TLEs)” are flashes of optical emissions in the stratosphere and mesosphere above severe thunderstorms.

These “fireworks” include Earth’s largest electrical discharges reaching from the top of thunderclouds to the bottom ionosphere at 80 km altitude.

"On Sprites and Their Exotic Kin" (.pdf) by Torsten Neubert, Science, Vol 300, 2 May 2003.


Also during the 1990s, bursts of X- and gamma-rays were observed by spacecraft, from the atmosphere above thunderstorms. These so-called “Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes” (TGFs) are thought to be bremsstrahlung radiation from relativistic electrons accelerated in the electric fields above thunderstorms.

TLEs and TGFs are newly discovered processes that couple the troposphere to the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space.


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