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    What Is The Science Behind Lightning?

    By Sumit Saini
    11 Nov'22  3 min read
    What Is The Science Behind Lightning?
    Synopsis

    Lightning is a process which we generally see during the stormy weather. 

    The phenomenon of lightning is associated with the charge difference between clouds and Earth. In this article, we discuss the process of lightning, its types and the safety measures. Read on to know in detail.

    What Is The Science Behind Lightning?
    Synopsis

    Lightning is a process which we generally see during the stormy weather. 

    The phenomenon of lightning is associated with the charge difference between clouds and Earth. In this article, we discuss the process of lightning, its types and the safety measures. Read on to know in detail.

    Lightning And Its Science

    Lightning refers to the electrical discharge of current or ions that flows in clouds due to induced differences of electrical charges between two parts of the clouds. Such parts can be within a big cloud or between different clouds. If the lightning happens within a cloud only, it is known as intra-cloud lightning. In the process of lightning generally negative charge is present at the side of the storm cloud and positive charge is present at the top side.

    On the ground objects like trees, wires etc. become positively charged and this creates an imbalance that leads to flow of charge.

    So lightning is induced by the charges and it further leads to the flow of current which can be dangerous to the wildlife and humans on the earth.

    Lightning-And-Its-Science

    Fig. Lightening

    Types Of Lightning

    There are different type of lightning depending on the Clouds and the

    1. Cloud to Ground Lightning- Negative charge

    Cloud to ground lightning is considered as the most dangerous form of lightning. As discussed below, the bottom of the cloud consists of the negatively charged ions and the ground consists of the positive charges. In this situation the negative charge rushes towards the positive charge and leads to the phenomenon called Cloud to Ground lightning- Negative Charge.

    1. Cloud to Ground Lightning- Positive Charge

    When the negative charge accumulates on the ground and positive charge from the clouds tends to neutralize the negative charge on the ground. This form of lightning is less likely but more dangerous in nature.

    1. Cloud to Cloud Lightning

    This type of lightning occurs when the positively charged cloud finds a negatively charged cloud in the atmosphere and they tend to attract each other and eventually neutralise. Cloud to Cloud lightning exists in the air only.

    Also Read| Invention Of Integrated Circuits

    What Are The Causes Of Lightning

    Clouds are formed when the moisture rises in the atmosphere. These clouds hold millions of tiny water droplets which continuously move around the cloud. During the movement and collision of such water droplets, electrical charges are generated. The clouds which lie at the top have low temperature and have positive charge and the clouds which exist at the bottom side are relatively warmer and possess negative charge. Due to this gap in the charge and temperature, the opposite charges tend to flow to neutralise each other and in this process the spark is generated. This process is known as lightning. This process of lightning is natural which is not in our control. Lightning can be dangerous hence we need to have safety measures which can minimise the risk.

    How Is A Lightning Bolt Formed?

    Lightning bolt is formed when the negative charge at the bottom of the cloud tends to neutralise itself with the positive charge of the ground. When the negative charge present at the bottom of the cloud accumulates and gets large enough, the negative charge flows towards the earth. At the same time, the positive charge at the ground attracts the negative charge coming from the clouds. This process leads to the formation of lightning bolts.

    Lightning Safety

    As discussed above, the process of lightning is dangerous and it can cause serious injuries. When you are outside and hear the thunder, it means there is lightning and potential danger exists. There is a time lag between the flash of lightning and the thunderstorm. Your distance from the lightning can be assessed by having an approx idea of the time lag. More the time lag, the more distance you have from the lightning.

    During such a situation, one can take shelter under a building and make sure not to use electrical equipment such as computers, televisions etc. One should wait for sometime and then come after the lightning is gone.

    Also Read| What Do You Know About The Invention Of Radio Waves

    The process of lightning is random and we don't get prior alert, Hence knowing basic safety measures to protect oneself is necessary.

    • Nature
    • Electricity
    • Electromagnetism
    • Physical chemistry
    • Applied and interdisciplinary physics
    • Electrical engineering
    • Physical geography
    • Physical phenomena
    • Meteorology
    • Phases of matter

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