Storm elves and sprites recorded on video

This series of images shows the clash of two elves captured at high speed during a storm in December 2009. Click image for larger version/more information.

From Eurka Alert:

FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

A team of Spanish researchers has made a high-speed recording of elves and sprites in storms, fleeting and luminous electric phenomena produced in the upper layers of the atmosphere. Their analysis of these observations has been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

“This is the first time in Europe that we have been able to use high-speed video to detect transitory luminous phenomena taking place in the upper atmosphere – so-called sprites (in the form of a carrot or column) and elves (which are ring shaped)”, Joan Montanyà, co-author of the study and a researcher at the Department of Electric Energy at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), tells SINC.

This graphic shows the outlines of the elves (elves), elves (sprites) and blue jets of storms. Click image for larger version/more information.

The results have been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research and show there are many fewer elves in storms that form over land than those at sea, where electric currents apparently have greater energy, especially in winter. Some of the recordings show elves and sprites at the same time, evidence of the strength of lightning over the sea during winter storms.

The scientists also observed the interaction between two sprites. A branch of one of them hit and bounced off the second, giving clues about their dynamics and electric structure. Sprites normally appear for around 40 milliseconds and 20 or 30 kilometres away from the site of the lightning.

“All these phenomena are related with storms, particularly winter storms, but they only appear in mesoscale convective systems (usually in large fronts), which produce lightning with high levels of energy or extreme electric currents”, explains Montanyà.

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30 thoughts on “Storm elves and sprites recorded on video

  1. These would be the weird lights in the upper atmosphere that pilots have reported for over 70 years. The ones that NASA refused to believe until they were seen from space by astronauts. The same high altitude lightning that downed the shuttle Columbia and evidenced by a amateur astronomer in California who took photos of the strike. Photos that were yanked from news and science blog websites and the originals were confiscated by government sources “in the national interest”.

    NASA cannot afford to admit there is an electrical connection between the Sun and the Earth’s upper atmosphere because that would publicly jeopardise 300 years of religious belief in Newtonian celestial mechanics. The reason is it just doesn’t work in the real world. Something NASA has know since the Vangard program and the Russians discovered not long after when they spectacularly “missed” the Moon with their Luna-1 payload designed to impact the lunar surface.

    To see how this electrical connect not only works but how it can be used to predict weather event go to [url]www.weatheraction.com[/url]

    It’s not the Sun’s irradiance that drives the weather it’s the Sun’s electrical connection to the upper atmosphere which interacts with jet stream and is modulated by the Moon passing through the Earths magnetosphere every month.
    This is the REAL driver of climate.

  2. Thanks for posting this Charles (but the “continue reading” link is broken).

    Here on the ground it takes some 3 million volts per meter gradient in dry air before breakdown and a spark will spontaneously jump. Don’t know about that figure in the stratosphere but for sure that blue streak packs one hell of a punch. Makes regular lightening look more like the tiny sparks you get rubbing your feet on the carpet. What is it, some 15-25 km long. Awesome! Elves, sprites, ball lightning have been somewhat a mystery as to the physics behind them in the past, this is great they can at least start to get some real good shapshots.

    Reply: Fixed ~ctm

  3. Maybe some day we can tap into that energy, and use the power as Tesla had envisioned. Wouldn’t that be something? Or would that, ultimately, change the weather irreversibly?

  4. “show there are many fewer elves in storms that form over land than those at sea, where electric currents apparently have greater energy, especially in winter.”

    this is very curious because lightning is very rare in the ocean and much more common on land.

    Records of St. Elmo’s fire however, where there is a glow from the tips of masts from electric discharge shows there is quite a bit of electric current occurring at sea, just not seen as lightning. Are sprites and elves discharges from the earth outwards?

  5. Paul M Who says:
    June 12, 2010 at 7:17 pm
    These would be the weird lights in the upper atmosphere that pilots have reported for over 70 years. The ones that NASA refused to believe until they were seen from space by astronauts. The same high altitude lightning that downed the shuttle Columbia and evidenced by a amateur astronomer in California who took photos of the strike. Photos that were yanked from news and science blog websites and the originals were confiscated by government sources “in the national interest”. . .

    This is of course contrary to the accepted explanation of the Columbia disaster, which held that the hot gases of reentry entered the shuttle’s wing via a hole made by frozen foam hitting the leading edge on lift-off, and compromised the integrity of the wing, leading to breakup of the entire vehicle. It always sounded plausible to me. Have the proponents of the ‘lightning’ hypothesis ever convinced anyone who was actually involved with the long study and analysis of the event?

    /Mr Lynn

  6. Elves (not Elfs) is an acronym for Emissions of Light and VLF perturbations from Electromagnetic Sources.

  7. They didn’t find any unicorns. They looked the wrong way! Unicorns are in the sea, they are called Narwhales.

  8. Good post, I hope the link will be repaired.
    It puts matters in perspective. Scientists barely know what the electric currents do at 100km up, but profess with ‘certainty’ knowledge of what is going millions of km away in the sun’s ‘atmosphere’ or further out trough heliosphere.

  9. It’s the behaviour of a plasma double layers that encapsulate the Earth from the plasma of space.

    While Wayne writes “Here on the ground it takes some 3 million volts per meter gradient in dry air .. for a spark to jump” is correct but a spark is a plasma arc discharge – while unseen is the continual current flow (up and down) of plasma in “dark current mode” that exists before the current density increases to cause a short circuit observed as the spark in dry air.

  10. Occam’s Razor would go for the frozen foam damaging Columbia. Sprites/elves etc are conspiracy theory garbage with respect to Columbia IMHO.

  11. Mr. Lynn,

    The Columbia re-entered over the Pacific and had clear skies over California and along its path as people watched its trail. Sprites and Elves occur over thunderstorms.

  12. One wonders if gneiss will now contend these ‘elves and sprites’ are proof that this site is anti-science :P

  13. Water carries trace elements such as iron which can move electric current.
    The atmosphere travels at incredible speed due to the rotation of the planet as it is a much wider circle, it is slower than the rotation of the planet. The atmopshere is flexible and is pulled by gravity and our off gasing helps generate centrifugal force.

  14. @Paul M Who says:
    June 12, 2010 at 7:17 pm
    “It’s not the Sun’s irradiance that drives the weather it’s the Sun’s electrical connection to the upper atmosphere which interacts with jet stream and is modulated by the Moon passing through the Earths magnetosphere every month.
    This is the REAL driver of climate.”

    The real `climatic` driver is the solar wind speed, this determines temperature changes. The electrical nature of storms though, has much to do with the predictable `spikes` in solar activty, responsible for the triggering of cyclones, tornadoes, electric storms, as well as the timing of day to day weather events, and could well be down to electromagnetic connections.

  15. As a retired airline pilot I too have seen these phenomenons while flying at high altitudes over or around thunderstorms. These events were usually associated with large cold fronts running from Canada to Mexico. I have never witnessed a sprite but elves and jets were somewhat common especially large jets appearing to shoot out into the depths of space. Although I’m unsure about an “electric universe,” it does make one wonder just how much we really know.

  16. Joanie says:

    Maybe some day we can tap into that energy, and use the power as Tesla had envisioned. Wouldn’t that be something? Or would that, ultimately, change the weather irreversibly?

    This is a non-starter as it would be the most erratic of energy sources – much too sporadic and variable in size, strength, and time or predictability. Wind energy is better, but even wind energy is a lousy energy source, again due to its variability and intermittent nature—operating mostly at very low capacity, meaning that you would have to have at least 10 times more turbines to begin to meet normal needs—this is a massive waste of resources and funds.

    Many systems we use require 24/7 energy and wind, solar, etc. based on naturally variable factors simply not going to work, regardless of how much we would like them to. If we could efficiently store the energy for later use, that would be a different picture, but that is not the case today. Mother nature does not synchronize with our needs.

    Hydroelectric (basically maxed at the moment), fossil fuel, and nuclear are the only truly useful energy sources. Geothermal is not on the list as there are limited geographical areas of the globe where this is applicable—it is not as great an energy source as they (Gore et al.) want us to think.

    Since CO2 is not an air pollutant and is good for us and the environment, and is a trace gas that does not drive climate, we should continue to use fossil fuels. This does not mean that we should not try to use it efficiently or aim to supplant our energy requirements with other forms. It would be great to employ wind and solar on individual houses, where these systems are more useful, and allow them to take a significant load off the power grid. Energy storage at this level is more effective.

    People are not stupid and will use alternative energy sources as they become affordable and efficient. Making people do this while the alternatives are still inefficient and expensive by imposing crippling cap and trade/taxes is punitive and destructive. It is the same as saying that we are going to bleed you big time today, but you have to run a race tomorrow; you have a problem with that?

    Taking money from people by increasing the cost of everything with the demand that they spend money on alternatives is very counter-productive and does not cause the cost increases to go away; they remain high. So, raise the cost of living irreversibly while making the “cure” cost even more—the road to long-term economic depression is paved with unworkable, but evil intentions. They know that wind and solar will not work.

  17. Do you know what is the temperature of Earth´s thermosphere?
    2500°K
    An earth baby Sun Corona?

  18. First of all high altitude lightning happens with or without thunderstorms – they have been witnessed and recorded by shuttle astronauts and other independent observers for years.
    Second NASA wouldn’t lie or cover up evidence would they? Just ask James Hanson.
    As for Occam – what’s more plausible a lightning stroke that can generate enough heat to melt ceramics let alone aluminum – that was also witnessed of a convoluted story about frozen foam damaging the wing.
    Is it just coincidence that the photo of the lightning impact strike occurred at 5:53am and that NASA reported the wheel well sensor blinked out at the same time. If it’s all so cut and dried why have the high res images never been released for other experts to analyze? Perhaps for the same reason climate data codes are kept secret.

  19. Our lack of knowledge about fundamental processes on a dynamic Earth underscores the folly of trying to fine-tune a trace gas in its atmosphere.

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