Lightning Bolts

A lightning strike or lightning bolt is an electric discharge between the atmosphere and the ground. Most originate in a cumulonimbus cloud and terminate on the ground, called cloud-to-ground lightning. A less common type of strike, ground-to-cloud lightning, is upward-propagating lightning initiated from a tall grounded object and reaching into the clouds. About 25% of all lightning events worldwide are strikes between the atmosphere and earth-bound objects. Most are intracloud lightning and cloud-to-cloud, where discharges only occur high in the atmosphere. Lightning strikes the average commercial aircraft at least once a year, but modern engineering and design means this is rarely a problem. The movement of aircraft through clouds can even cause lightning strikes. A single lightning event is a "flash", which is a complex, multistage process, some parts of which are not fully understood. Most CG flashes only "strike" one physical location, referred to as a "termination".

Read more in the app

Playing Zeus, scientists use a laser beam to control lightning bolts

Billions of lightning bolts may have jump-started life on Earth, study suggests

Lightning Bolts Could Have Delivered The Spark That Started Life on Earth