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The Science behind Lightning

Education

The Science behind Lightning

Read to uncover the mystery behind lightning.

By Noorulain Sayed 30th Mar, 2016 03:34 pm

Imagine a dark rainy day; it’s pouring heavily and through the dark clouds is a sudden flash of an extremely bright white light—lightning. Have you ever wondered how this phenomenon of lightning occurs? Read on to find out!

Image source: www.businessinsider.in

What is lightning?

Lightning is a sudden electrostatic discharge during a storm. 

It occurs when the positive and negative electrically charged regions of a cloud first separate. 

The positive and negative charges then reunite to get neutralized.

Streamers rise from the ground to form a pathway.  

When the pathway is complete, a spark forms, neutralising the charge. 

As the negative charge races down, the air surrounding it heats up.

The spark is very hot, almost 20,000°C, and it rapidly heats the air to create a shock wave. This is when lightning strikes.

In the form of plasma it causes light.

In the form of thunder it causes sound. 

Factors responsible for lightning

Lightning occurs because of the following factors:Ground elevation

Latitude

Prevailing wind currents 

Relative humidity 

Proximity to warm and cold water bodies 

Image source: www.easttennesseewildflowers.com

Fun Facts!

Fulminology is the science of lightning.

Astraphobia is the fear of lightning.

A lightning charge contains 30 million volts at 100,000 amperes.

The total energy in a large thunderstorm is more than that in an atomic bomb.

A bolt of lightning strikes some place on the Earth every second.

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