Mapping lightning in the sky with a mini array

Martin Füllekrug, Zhongjian Liu, Kuang Koh, Andrew Mezentsev, Stéphane Pedeboy, Serge Soula, Sven Erik Enno, Jacqueline Sugier, Michael J. Rycroft

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Mini arrays are commonly used for infrasonic and seismic studies. Here we report for the first time the detection and mapping of distant lightning discharges in the sky with a mini array. The array has a baseline to wavelength ratio ∼4.2·10−2 to record very low frequency electromagnetic waves from 2 to 18 kHz. It is found that the mini array detects ∼69 lightning pulses per second from cloud-to-ground and in-cloud discharges, even though the parent thunderstorms are ∼900–1100 km away and a rigorous selection criterion based on the quality of the wavefront across the array is used. In particular, lightning pulses that exhibit a clockwise phase progression are found at larger elevation angles in the sky as the result of a birefringent subionospheric wave propagation attributed to ordinary and extraordinary waves. These results imply that long range lightning detection networks might benefit from an exploration of the wave propagation conditions with mini arrays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10,448-10,454
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2016


  • array analysis
  • atmospheric and space electricity
  • electromagnetic noise and interference
  • lightning discharges
  • wave propagation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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