Multi-instrumental analysis of large sprite events and their producing storm in southern France

S. Soula, F. Iacovella, O. van der Velde, J. Montanyà, M. Füllekrug, T. Farges, J. Bór, J.-F. Georgis, S. NaitAmor, J.-M. Martin

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During the night of 01-02 September, 2009, seventeen distinct sprite events including 3 halos were observed above a storm in north-western Mediterranean Sea, with a video camera at Pic du Midi (42.93N; 0.14E; 2877 m). The sprites occurred at distances between 280 and 390 km which are estimated based on their parent CG location. The MCS-type storm was characterized by a trailing-stratiform structure and a very circular shape with a size of about 70,000 km (cloud top temperature lower than - 35 °C) when the TLEs were observed. The cloud to ground (CG) flash rate was large (45 min ) one hour before the TLE observation and very low (< 5 min ) during it. Out of the 17 sprite events, 15 parent + CG (P + CG) strokes have been identified and their average peak current is 87 kA (67 kA for the 14 events without halo), while the associated charge moment changes (CMC) that could be determined, range from 424 to 2088 ± 20% C km. Several 2-second videos contain multiple sprite events: one with four events, one with three events and three with two events. Column and carrot type sprites are identified, either together or separately. All P + CG strokes are clearly located within the stratiform region of the storm and the second P + CG stroke of a multiple event is back within the stratiform region. Groups of large and bright carrots reach ~ 70 km height and ~ 80 km horizontal extent. These groups are associated with a second pulse of electric field radiation in the ELF range which occurs ~ 5 ms after the P + CG stroke and exhibits the same polarity, which is evidence for current in the sprite body. VLF perturbations associated with the sprite events were recorded with a station in Algiers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-431
JournalAtmospheric Research
Early online date15 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


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