'Gigantic Jet' Lightning Spotted Over China - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

'Gigantic Jet' Lightning Spotted Over China

Posted: Updated:

YAHOO.COM - A rare glimpse of a "gigantic jet" — a huge and mysterious burst of lightning that connects a thunderstorm with the upper atmosphere — was made over China in 2010 and was recently described by scientists.

The gigantic jet took place in eastern China on Aug. 12, 2010 — the farthest a ground-based one has ever been observed from the equator, according to the research team.

Previous jets were mainly seen in tropical or subtropical regions, but this one took place around 35 degrees latitude, about the same as the southern part of Tennessee in the United States.

"This is the first report from mainland China," lead researcher Jing Yang, an atmospheric scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, told OurAmazingPlanet. The results were recently published in the Chinese Science Bulletin.

Researchers got a good look at the storm using a variety of tools, including Doppler radar data and weather pictures in the infrared band of radiation.

The gigantic jet peaked at about 55 miles (89 kilometers) above the ground, far above the cloudtops that were measured with Doppler radar at an altitude of 11 miles (17 km). [Infographic: Earth's Atmosphere Top to Bottom]

Yang added that her team had possibly seen another gigantic jet in the same area during a different thunderstorm, but said they needed to recheck the data to confirm.

"It's not as clear as this one if it is a gigantic jet or not," she said.

It wasn't until the last century that electrical activity above thunderclouds was scientifically proven, although rumors based on undocumented observations circulated long before that time.

These electrical discharges can take several forms, such as sprites (orange-red flashes) and blue jets, which appear as blue cones.

The first confirmed gigantic jet was reported in 2001, after American researchers saw a blue jet reaching 44 miles (70 km) above the clouds at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. This was nearly double the 26-mile (42 km) limit for jets that was previously observed.

Two years later, researchers described shapes such as "tree jets" and "carrot jets" that they spotted during a 2002 thunderstorm over the South China Sea near the Philippines.

While scientists are still trying to understand how these gigantic jets work, they believe the jets balance out the electrical charge during thunderstorms by discharging the ionosphere — a part of the upper atmosphere filled with charged particles.

  • National NewsMore>>

  • 10 More Bodies Found Inside South Korean Ferry; Hundreds Still Missing

    10 More Bodies Found Inside South Korean Ferry; Hundreds Still Missing

    Saturday, April 19 2014 11:00 PM EDT2014-04-20 03:00:36 GMT
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested. Yonhap says 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok was detained early Saturday. The ship, the Sewol, sank Wednesday, leaving hundreds missing and feared dead.More >>
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested. Yonhap says 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok was detained early Saturday. The ship, the Sewol, sank Wednesday, leaving hundreds missing and feared dead.
    More >>
  • Hawaii Is Genetically Engineered Crop Flash Point

    Hawaii Is Genetically Engineered Crop Flash Point

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:46 PM EDT2014-04-20 02:46:34 GMT
    WAIALUA, Hawaii (AP) - You can trace the genetic makeup of most corn grown in the U.S., and in many other places around the world, to Hawaii.The industry's leading companies all have farms in the tiny island state. They take advantage of Hawaii's warm weather to grow new varieties of corn genetically engineered for desirable traits like insect and drought resistance.More >>
    WAIALUA, Hawaii (AP) - You can trace the genetic makeup of most corn grown in the U.S., and in many other places around the world, to Hawaii.The industry's leading companies all have farms in the tiny island state. They take advantage of Hawaii's warm weather to grow new varieties of corn genetically engineered for desirable traits like insect and drought resistance.More >>
  • $14M Awarded In Suit Linking Contraceptive, Stroke

    $14M Awarded In Suit Linking Contraceptive, Stroke

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:40 PM EDT2014-04-20 02:40:38 GMT
    CHICAGO (AP) - A jury has awarded $14 million to a suburban Chicago woman who sued her doctor over a debilitating stroke she suffered after taking the birth control drug Yasmin.Lawyers for Mariola Zapalski, of Elmwood Park, say the stroke occurred 13 days after she began taking the drug, paralyzing her left side and causing permanent brain injury.More >>
    CHICAGO (AP) - A jury has awarded $14 million to a suburban Chicago woman who sued her doctor over a debilitating stroke she suffered after taking the birth control drug Yasmin.Lawyers for Mariola Zapalski, of Elmwood Park, say the stroke occurred 13 days after she began taking the drug, paralyzing her left side and causing permanent brain injury.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KHQ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.