It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Scientists have long speculated that cosmic rays from outer space trigger lightning on Earth, but new research adds another element to the mix: the sun.
For the first time, British researchers have drawn a connection between the sun’s solar winds and their effect on thunderstorm activity here on Earth.
The new study, published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, states that high-energy particles from the sun may have enough force to penetrate Earth’s magnetosphere, the web of magnetic fields that envelope our planet, and increase lightning events.
“It’s apparent that the sun is a major influence on our weather. But there are subtle, secondary effects,” lead researcher Chris Scott from the University of Reading's Department of Meteorology said in a statement. “We have found evidence that high-speed solar wind streams can increase lightning rates.”
The top panel of figure 4 presents the median daily response in lightning rates as measured by the ATD system of the UK Met Office. Since the meteorological conditions necessary to produce lightning are not always present, these data are dominated by times for which there was little or no lightning. In order to calculate a meaningful median, these zero values were not included in our calculations by requiring a minimum mean lightning rate of one stroke per hour. This is not unreasonable since it is just recognition of the fact that convective instability must be present for lightning to occur.