Have you ever sat through an epic thunderstorm and watched stunning bolts of lightning streak across the sky only to think “how does that work?” With over 100 bolts of lightning striking the earth every second on average, it’s likely you’ve seen this beautiful, yet deadly, natural display countless times before.
However, whilst this breathtaking natural phenomenon is constantly happening across the globe, you may be surprised to know that scientists still aren’t quite sure how it works - luckily, we’re slowly filling in the gaps.
The water cycleWhen it comes to understanding thunderstorms, it’s best to start with the water cycle. As water is evaporated by the sun, the subsequent vapour forms clouds thanks to condensation. Once enough water condenses, the water forms into droplets we know as rain and snow; the rainwater will then make its way back to the ocean.
It is within these rising and falling clouds of water vapour that lightning is both created and dispersed, meaning that areas with high precipitation and humidity levels are most affected by lightning strikes.
CollisionsWhilst scientists are not completely sure how huge charges of electricity are created in the atmosphere, there is a plausible explanation that many researchers ascribe to. As we now know, clouds are simply condensed water and ice evaporated from the world’s oceans. These clouds contain millions of water particles that are constantly rising and falling as evaporation and condensation continues.
Scientists believe that these droplets collide with each other, with the heavier condensed water knocking electrons from rising vapour as it falls. These knocked off electrons gather at the bottom of a cloud, creating a positive charge, while positively charged moisture builds at the top, creating a charge separation.
FreezingFreezing also plays an important role within scientists’ theory of lightning. As moisture reaches the upper regions of the cloud, it begins to freeze, giving it a positive charge while the unfrozen portions have a negative charge. By combining collisions and freezing within a cloud, enough charge is theoretically created to produce the vast amount of energy required for a lightning strike.
StrikesOnce an electric field has been produced thanks to the positive and negative charges within a cloud, the negative charge in the lower regions of the cloud begin to attract the positive charge built up in the ground below. Once the positive charge meets the negative, a lightning strike occurs.
Keep your building safe with Rodells Lightning protection servicesAlthough a lightning strike is a beautiful natural display, they can also be extremely dangerous both to people and structures. With Rodells lightning protection services, however, you can ensure your building remains safe.
Offering everything from tests and inspections to lightning rod installation, you can rest assured that Rodells will get the job done. For more information, visit our website or get in touch on 01727 841855.