Blue jet

  • Thread starter Christophe Suarez
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Christophe Suarez

Good evening,

A while ago, Patrice huet posted a very nice photo gallery on "Chasseurs d'Orages". There's one photo I would like to share with you as the phenomenon is not common. Patrice captured a blue jet in La Réunion Island in 1997. This pictures has been publicated in several scientific journals, including "Scientific American" (special Weather) the Journal of Geophysical Research and "Traqueurs d’orages" from Alex hermant, our storm chasing Bible.

I've personally seen very weak red sprites (3 or 4) once above a far thunderstorm, near the atlantic ocean in France, but could not capture them as the camera was shoting elsewhere. However I'm not sure that the camera would easily capture such a weak and short phenomenon.

It would be nice to share your experience if you already saw such a stratospheric flash.


You may find more photos from Patrice on his gallery

When I was driving home on on the mid-evening of 9-16 storms started intiating way down in Iowa and quickly going severe. Im guessing it had to be 200 miles away. Anyways, there were numerous red-sprites visible from this storm and I tried really hard to get it captured but kept getting nothing.
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How are these phenomenons allowed to be perfromed? It looks like it is in relationship to the energy of the thunderstoms/it's lightning, thus inducing this effect? Any other information about it's formation is appreciated.
I love Sprites. Especially when I am dehydrated I will take a 20 oz. Bottle.

Seriously, I have always been fascinated by Sprites and Jets. I think partly because they are a mystery as to their nature, and the other part because of their raw beauty and significant energy. It is almost as if there is as much an interesting world ABOVE the storm as there was BELOW the storm. We have so much yet to learn about convective events, and we have just scratched the tip of the iceberg.
Sprites, jets, and other high-altitude eletrical phenomena (such as Elves) are known as "transient luminous events". As others have noted, relatively little is know about them, but they seem to be more common with organized convective systems (i.e. MCSs), and they may be associated with incoming cosmic rays.

It appears that −CG TLEs, mostly spriteless halos, occurred 5–7 times more often than the +CG TLEs. The halo appears to be a fundamental mesospheric response to lightning.
--> Bering, E. A., III, J. R. Benbrook, L. Bhusal, J. A. Garrett, A. M. Paredes, E. M. Wescott, D. R. Moudry, D. D. Sentman, H. C. Stenbaek-Nielsen, and W. A. Lyons (2004), Observations of transient luminous events (TLEs) associated with negative cloud to ground (−CG) lightning strokes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L05104, doi:10.1029/2003GL018659.

A six year record of optical observations of lightning-induced mesospheric transient luminous events (TLEs) is available from the Yucca Ridge Field Station (YRFS) near Ft. Collins, CO. Climatological analyses reveal sprites and elves occur in a variety of convective storm types, but principally mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) and squall lines. Severe supercell storms rarely produce TLEs, except during their dissipating stage. Few TLEs are observed during storms with radar echo areas <7,500 km2. Above this size there is a modest correlation with radar areal coverage. A typical High Plains storm produces 45 TLEs over a 143 interval. Sprites and most elves are associated with +CGs. The probability of a TLE increases with peak current. In six storms, 5.1% of +CGs produced TLEs, the number increasing to 32% of +CGs with >75 kA and 52% of +CGs with >100 kA peak current.

See also the website of FMA Research at (pictures, graphics, explanations, links to publications, etc, are contained in that site).

L. Bhusal, E. A. Bering III, J. R. Benbrook, J. A. Garrett, A. M. Paredes, E. M. Wescott, D. R. Moudry, D. D. Sentman, H. C. Stenbaek-Nielsen and W. A. Lyons,
Statistics and properties of transient luminous events found in the 1999 Sprites Balloon Campaign, Advances in Space Research, Volume 34, Issue 8, Planetary Ionospheres and Atmospheres Including CIRA
, 2004, Pages 1811-1814.

Walt Lyons has done quite a bit of work on TLEs. In addition, if I recall correctly, I believe Stormtrack's very own Oscar van der Valde has a publication or several about TLEs, so I await his input!
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Wow - I know this photograph from the Plate section of the book of Rakov and Uman (2003), page 410, but this version here shows more detail on the side streamers. It is my dream to catch something like this and hunt for them... Most seem to be reported in the tropics. We certainly know almost nothing about them.

In August I happened to browse the web, and discovered an image of a gigantic jet on someone's website. It was recorded from Marfa, Texas, late evening May 12th 2005, over northern Mexico. I contacted the person (J. Bunnell) and he actually didn't know how rare it was, so he had not reported it yet. Now Walt Lyons, Steve Cummer and I are investigating the case with Mr. Bunnell. The same storm produced 30 sprites. An analysis will be presented at the AGU Fall Meeting in December and we are writing a GRL paper.

These gigantic jets have so far only been reported from Puerto Rico and in two occasions from Taiwan. In the latter event they happened 5 times in 20 minutes.

Sprite season is still going on here in France. Last night a couple more events were obtained from storms over eastern France, soon to be posted on the Eurosprite blog. October 18-19th could have been a great night if those low clouds would have stayed away from the mountain, that system just kept going and going... ended up with 4 sprites quite early in the night, in just about 15 minutes.

Last month I posted a link to the red sprite I captured with my DSLR (after that we lost part of the forum):
It is not impossible, but you need a sprite bright and close enough, otherwise you have to use a magnifying glass to find out where it is in the photo (I have two more). The sprite looked very bright from the corner of my eyes, brighter than it shows in the photo (but... I saw it as white)


- Jeff:
van der Velde, O. A., Ã￾. Mika, S. Soula, C. Haldoupis, T. Neubert, and U. S. Inan (2006), Observations of the relationship between sprite morphology and in-cloud lightning processes, J. Geophys. Res., 111, D15203, doi:10.1029/2005JD006879.
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