One of the outstanding questions in lightning research is how dart leaders (also called recoil leaders or K-leaders) initiate and develop during a lightning flash. Dart leaders travel quickly (106-107 m/s) along previously ionized channels and occur intermittently in the later stage of a flash. We have recently reported some insights into dart leader initiation and development based on our BIMAP-3D observations. In this presentation we will expand on that work by combining observations and modeling to try to understand the observed dart leader behaviors. BIMAP-3D consists of two broadband interferometric mapping and polarization (BIMAP) systems that are separated by 11.5km at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Each station maps the lightning VHF sources in a 2D space, and the combination of the 2-station measurements provides a detailed 3D source map. A fast antenna is also included at each station for electric field change measurements. Our previously reported observations suggest dart leaders commonly exhibit an initial acceleration, followed by a more gradual deceleration to a stop. We also modeled the dart leader electric field change with a simple configuration of two point-charges, finding that the modeled tip charge increased in magnitude during the initial acceleration in some simple cases. We now employ a more sophisticated model to better understand the distribution of charge along the dart leader channel, and the background electric field in which the dart leader develops.Presented at the AGU 2023 Fall Meeting
Simultaneous data from two interferometers separated by 16 km and synchronized within 100 ns was collected for a thunderstorm near Langmuir Lab on October 23, 2018. Analysis via triangulation followed by a least-squares fit to time of arrival across all six antennae produced a three-dimensional interferometer data set (3DINTF). Simultaneous Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) data enabled an independent calculation of 3DINTF accuracy, yielding a median location uncertainty of 200 m. This is the most accurate verified result to date for a two-station interferometer. The 3D data allowed profiling the velocity of multiple dart leaders and K leaders that followed the same channel. 3D velocities calculated from the in-cloud initiation site to ground ranged from 3x10^6 m/s to 20x10^6 m/s. Average velocity generally increased with subsequent leaders, consistent with increased conditioning of the channel. Also, all leaders showed a factor of two to three decrease in velocity as they proceeded over 15 km of channel. We speculate that the velocity decrease is consistent with energy lost in the reionization of the channel at the leader tip. This paper includes an appendix providing details of the triangulation technique used.