Lightning is a powerful natural electrostatic discharge produced during a thunderstorm. Lightning's abrupt electric discharge is accompanied by the emission of light. The electricity passing through the atmosphere rapidly heats and expands the air, producing lightning's characteristic thunder sound. The first process in the generation of lightning is the forcible separation of positive and negative charges within a cloud or air. The mechanism by which this happens is still the subject of research, but one widely accepted theory is the polarization mechanism. This mechanism has two components: the first is that falling droplets of ice and rain become electrically polarized as they fall through the atmosphere's natural electric field, and the second is that colliding ice particles become charged by electrostatic induction. Once charged, by whatever mechanism, work is performed as the opposite charges are driven apart and energy is stored in the e-fields between them













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The positively charged crystals tend to rise to the top, causing the cloud top to build up a positive charge, and the negatively charged crystals and hailstones drop to the middle and bottom layers of the cloud, building up a negative charge. Cloud-to-cloud lightning can appear at this point. Cloud-to-ground lightning is less common. Cumulonimbus clouds that do not produce enough ice crystals usually fail to produce enough charge separation to cause lightning. Lightning can also occur within the ash clouds from volcanic eruptions, or can be caused by violent forest fires which generate sufficient dust to create a static charge.

Above Images Are From The NOAA





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