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Journal of Geophysical Research


The terrestrial gamma ray flash (TGF) is an emission of highly energetic radiation produced by or at least in close association with lightning. Previous investigations attempted to isolate the production mechanisms and production altitude(s) of TGFs as well as macrophysical characteristics, while thunderstorm microphysical characteristics were largely ignored. This investigation into thunderstorms and their hydrometeor and flash characteristics utilize temporal and spatial coincident satellite passes between the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission to determine the bulk (or footprint) microphysical properties of two types of study events, the thunderstorm complexes which are associated with TGFs (TGF case) and the thunderstorm complexes which did not produce a TGF detected by Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager during the pass (non-TGF case). Results are presented for two different comparison methods. The first case utilizes geographic region weighted by TGF distribution, and the second is based on TGF percentage of occurrence when compared to total flash count of data set. Results show that the associated storms around the TGF location possess differences in the hydrometeor concentrations: cloud liquid water, cloud ice, precipitation water, and precipitation ice. These results take place at different levels of the atmosphere, including the mixed phase region. Additionally, results will show that TGFs are a consistent percentage of observed flashes as the rate of TGFs as a function of Lightning Imaging Sensor flash count is relatively constant.



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