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Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics


The purpose of this paper is to introduce electrical discharge phenomena known as transient luminous events above thunderstorms to the lightning protection community. Transient luminous events include the upward electrical discharges from thunderstorms known as starters, jets, and gigantic jets, and electrical discharges initiated in the lower ionosphere such as sprites, halos, and elves. We give an overview of these phenomena with a focus on starters, jets, gigantic jets, and sprites, because similar to ordinary lightning, streamers and leaders are basic components of these four types of transient luminous events. We present a few recent observations to illustrate their main properties and briefly review the theories. The research in transient luminous events has not only advanced our understanding of the effects of thunderstorms and lightning in the middle and upper atmosphere but also improved our knowledge of basic electrical discharge processes critical for sparks and lightning.

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