Lightning

Lightning

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Credit: PEKKA PARVIAINEN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Lightning. Forked cloud-to-air lightning 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. Cloud-to-air lightning occurs between the positively charged upper levels of a cloud and the atmosphere. 'Leader electrons' leave the cloud and, on reaching the atmosphere, there is a backflow of energy along the path of the electrons. This produces a bright flash of light and high temperatures. This type of lightning is less powerful than cloud-to-ground lightning. Photographed in Finland.

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