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Can Solar Winds Trigger Lightning On Earth? Study Reveals ‘Subtle’ Influences Of Sun On Weather

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posted on May, 16 2014 @ 01:49 AM
Scientists have discovered new evidence to suggest that lightning on Earth is triggered not only by cosmic rays from space, but also by energetic particles from the Sun via solar winds

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.”


As the sun rotates every 27 days, material known as solar wind bursts from the sun and streams into space at a speed of about 400 to 800 kilometers a second, according to Scott. These constant jets of energetic particles – mainly electrons and protons – pass by Earth with predictable regularity.

To study the correlation between solar wind and thunderstorms, researchers analyzed data of lightning events in the UK between 2000 and 2005. They compared the incidences of lightning strikes with solar wind measurements from NASA.

The results could prove useful for weather forecasters, since these solar wind streams rotate with the Sun, sweeping past Earth at regular intervals, accelerating particles into Earth's atmosphere
As these streams can be tracked by spacecraft, this offers the potential for predicting the severity of hazardous weather events many weeks in advance

posted on May, 16 2014 @ 04:00 AM
Some ambivalence in the study. Some tedium as well. Efforts to tie lightning occurrence to cosmic rays had previously failed so now cosmic rays + solar wind are being sort of mashed together and, after some statistical fiddling, are being linked. All the while, old habits die hard.

Evidence for solar wind modulation of lightning/4.4. Lightning and thunder days

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.

It's time, imo, to look at the densities of charged particles in the ionosphere and to utilize some real data on how those densities get increased.

posted on May, 16 2014 @ 10:09 AM
a reply to: snarky412

Complex systems analysis. In other words, everything is connected. Everything.

Wotta concept.


posted on May, 16 2014 @ 12:04 PM
Funny that none of this is scientific fact yet, seeing as I've witnessed the phenomenon multiple times first-hand. A storm without rain or thunder and only flashes lightening sometimes 2 at a time.... is most definitely solar related (especially considering these happened around the time of major solar flares..)

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