Lightning

Lightning

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Credit: PEKKA PARVIAINEN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Lightning. In-cloud lightning illuminating a thundercloud over an urban area. Lightning occurs when a large electrical charge builds up in a cloud. This is probably due to the rapid movement of water droplets and ice particles in the turbulent interior of the cloud. In-cloud lightning occurs between the negatively charged base of a cloud and the positively charged upper levels. 'Leader electrons' move between the charged areas and, when contact is made, there is a huge backflow of energy along the path of the electrons. This produces a bright flash of light and temperatures of up to 30,000 degrees Celsius. Photographed in Finland.

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