Different Types of Corona Discharges Associated With High-Altitude Positive Narrow Bipolar Events Nearby Cloud Top


Single- and multi-pulse blue corona discharges are frequently observed in thunderstorm clouds. Although we know they often correlate with Narrow Bipolar Events (NBEs) in Very Low Frequency/Low Frequency radio signals, their physics is not well understood. Here, we report a detailed analysis of different types of blue corona discharges observed by the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor during an overpass of a thundercloud cell nearby Malaysia. Both single- and multi-pulse blue corona discharges were associated with positive NBEs at the top of the cloud, reaching about 18 km altitude. We find that the primary pulses of multi-pulse discharges have weaker current moments than the single-pulse discharges, suggesting that the multi-pulse discharges either have shorter vertical channels or have weaker currents than the single-pulse discharges. The subsequent pulse trains of the multi-pulse discharges delayed some milliseconds are likely from horizontally oriented electrical discharges, but some NBEs, correlated with both single-and multi-pulse discharges, include small-amplitude oscillations within a few microseconds inside their waveforms, which are unresolved in the optical observation and yet to be understood. Furthermore, by jointly analyzing the optical and radio observations, we estimate the photon free mean path at the cloud top to be ∼6 m.

JGR Atmospheres