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Small-scale discharges observed near the top of a thunderstorm
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  • Olaf Scholten,
  • Brian Hare,
  • Joseph R Dwyer,
  • Ningyu Liu,
  • Chris Francis Sterpka,
  • Jelle Daniel Assink,
  • Hidde Leijnse,
  • S. Veen
Olaf Scholten
University of Groningen

Corresponding Author:o.scholten@rug.nl

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Brian Hare
University of Groningen
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Joseph R Dwyer
University of New Hampshire
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Ningyu Liu
The University of New Hampshire
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Chris Francis Sterpka
University of New Hampshire
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Jelle Daniel Assink
KNMI
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Hidde Leijnse
Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute
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S. Veen
ASTRON
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Abstract

We have used the LOw-Frequency ARray (LOFAR) to image a few lightning flashes during a particularly severe thunderstorm. The images show an exceptional amount of VHF activity at altitudes above 10 km. Much of this is in the form of small-scale discharges occurring seemingly randomly around the centers of active storm cells. Because of their small and incidental structure we refer to these as ‘speckles’. A detailed investigation shows strong evidence that these speckles are indicative of positive leader channels and that they are equivalent to the needle activity seen around positive leader tracks at lower altitudes.