From EPFL: “Upside-down lightning strikes”

Science Springs

EPFL bloc

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

11.12.15
Sarah Perrin

1Tom Warner.

Upward lightning strikes initiate on the ground and head skyward. These discharges, which usually begin at the top of tall and slender structures, pose a real risk for wind turbines. An EPFL study analyzes the mechanisms underlying this poorly understood phenomenon.

Is lightning born of an angry sky? Not always. In some circumstances, it can also be initiated from the ground. Upward-moving discharges can easily be distinguished from downward ones by the inverted branches of the lightning which point to the clouds rather than the ground. Upward strikes are a poorly understood phenomenon and mainly occur where tall and slender structures are located on high ground. A researcher from EPFL’s Electromagnetic Compatibility Laboratory (EMC) took an interest in this topic, analyzed it and ended up writing his thesis on it. The results of his research were published in a…

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