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Combined Optical and Radio-Frequency Perspectives on Hybrid Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Observed by the FORTE Satellite
  • Michael Jay Peterson,
  • Tracy Ellen Lavezzi Light,
  • Xuan-Min Shao
Michael Jay Peterson
ISR-2,Los Alamos National Laboratory

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Tracy Ellen Lavezzi Light
Los Alamos National Laboratory (DOE)
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Xuan-Min Shao
Los Alamos National Laboratory (DOE)
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We use the coincident optical and radio-frequency measurements taken by the FORTE satellite to shed light on common optical signatures recorded by NASA and NOAA lightning imagers during Cloud-to-Ground (CG) lightning. We build flash cluster data for FORTE using the same clustering techniques as GLM and document the optical / RF evolution of an oceanic hybrid -CG flash over its 656 ms duration. The flash began with strong VHF emission from a Narrow Bipolar Event (NBE) that initiated a period of normal bilevel intracloud (IC) activity in two vertical layers (8 km and 12 km) that lasted for 490 ms. VHF waveforms show step leader activity ahead of seawater attachment in the return stroke. All impulsive VHF sources after the stroke come from the lower (8 km layer) only. K-changes are noted following the return stroke, but no subsequent strokes are detected. The optical flash began 136 ms after the NBE RF pulse. 22 of the 30 optical groups were dim and occurred during the in-cloud phase of the flash. This activity included both isolated pulses and sustained periods of illumination over tens of milliseconds. Initial cloud pulses accounted for 23% of the total optical radiance from the flash. Illumination during the return stroke contributed a further 58% of the total radiance, and the K-changes and cloud pulses after the stroke supplied the remaining 19%. These results highlight the benefit of having RF alongside optical lightning measurements for clarifying signatures in the optical data and providing information on their physical origins.