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Giant blue jet caught on film

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  • strobusnana
    Giant blue jet caught on film [http://www.nature.com/nsu/020311/020311-6.html] Blue jets connect Earth s electric circuit. 14 March 2002 TOM CLARKE Video
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      Giant blue jet
      caught on film

      [http://www.nature.com/nsu/020311/020311-6.html%5d

      Blue jets connect Earth's electric circuit.
      14 March 2002

      TOM CLARKE

      Video images
      captured in Puerto
      Rico suggest that
      blue flashes of light,
      much like lightning,
      feed energy from
      thunderstorms up into
      the Earth's
      ionosphere - a
      blanket of
      electrically charged
      air some 70
      kilometres above the
      ground1.

      Some researchers suspect that such
      phenomena may also fix nitrogen for plants
      to use and interact with the ozone layer2.

      The images, taken in September 2001,
      show the largest blue jet ever to be caught
      on camera. "It really was a gigantic flash,"
      says Victor Pasko of Pennsylvania State
      University, who led the observation team.
      "With the naked eye you could even see it
      rising," he recalls.

      Blue jets are often associated with
      thunderstorms, but until now were thought
      to be relatively small. The Puerto Rican jet
      stretched from the top of a small
      thunderstorm to the lower edge of the
      ionosphere, filling an estimated 6,000
      cubic kilometres of atmosphere.

      Flashes this big might explain the
      300,000-volt difference between the
      charge of the ionosphere and the ground.
      Physicists have long agreed that something
      must link the two regions to complete the
      global electrical circuit (GEC). Until the
      latest film, nothing had been seen that
      reached high enough from the cloud tops to
      do the job.

      "We knew the currents were there, but
      there was no visual evidence" says Davis
      Sentman, the physicist at the University of
      Alaska in Fairbanks who discovered blue
      jets in 1994. The film "really advances the
      science in this field", he says.

      That the sighting was associated with the
      kind of small, localized storm common
      worldwide, suggests that large blue jets
      could also be common. If so, they might
      influence atmospheric chemistry: their
      electrical energy could encourage gases to
      react with one another. "The effect may be
      there but we don't know if it's dramatically
      important," admits Pasko.

      Sprites, elves, trolls and pixies

      In the past decade,
      high-speed,
      light-sensitive
      cameras have
      allowed scientists to
      describe a
      menagerie of
      electrical
      phenomena, which
      bear names that
      would be more at
      home in a Tolkien
      novel than a physics
      textbook. Sprites,
      blue jets and
      associated flashes
      called elves,
      crawlers, trolls and
      pixies are all fleeting electrical discharges
      that accompany thunderstorms.

      All these phenomena are hard to spot, as
      they last for less than a blink of an eye and
      are obscured from below by cloud. They
      can be glimpsed along storm fronts and
      from aeroplanes flying above the clouds.

      Sprites, which might also help to maintain
      the GEC, work a bit like blue jets in
      reverse. They are pink, or sometimes red,
      and occur when current from just below the
      ionosphere moves downwards towards
      thunderstorms. As with jets, this current
      excites atoms along the way, causing them
      to emit light.



      References

      1.Pasko, V. P., Stanley, M. A.,
      Mathews, J. D., Inan, U. S. & Wood,
      T. G. Electrical discharge from a
      thundercloud top to the lower
      ionosphere. Nature, 416, 152 - 154,
      (2002).
      2.Mishin, E. Ozone layer perturbation
      by a single blue jet. Geophysical
      Research Letters, 24, 1919 - 1922,
      (1997).

      © Nature News Service / Macmillan
      Magazines Ltd 2002
      ---------------
      Sorry for the formatting. The Global Electrical Circuit. More proof
      of Gaia as a living organism. That is if you believe that life is an
      electrical phenomena.
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