Thunderstorms Producing Sferic-Geolocated Gamma-Ray Flashes Detected by TETRA-II
The terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) and Energetic Thunderstorm Rooftop Array (TETRA-II) detected 22 X-ray/gamma-ray flash events associated with lightning between October 2015 and March 2019 across three ground-based detector locations in subtropical and tropical climates in Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and Panama. Each detector array consists of a set of bismuth germanate scintillators that record X-ray and gamma-ray bursts over the energy range 50 keV–6 MeV (million electron volts). TETRA-II events have characteristics similar to both X-ray bursts associated with lightning leaders and TGFs: sub-millisecond duration, photons up to MeV energies, and association with nearby lightning (typically within 3 km). About 20 of the 22 events are geolocated to individual lightning strokes via spatiotemporally coincident sferics. An examination of radar reflectivity and derived products related to events located within the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) monitoring region indicates that events occur within mature cells of severe and non-severe multicellular and squall line thunderstorms, with core echo tops which are at or nearing peak altitude. Events occur in both high lightning frequency thunderstorm cells and low lightning frequency cells. Events associated with high frequency cells occur within 5 min of significant lightning jumps. Among NEXRAD-monitored events, hail is present within 8 km and 5 min of all except a single low-altitude cold weather thunderstorm. An association is seen with maximum thunderstorm development, lightning jumps, and hail cells, indicating that the TETRA-II X-ray/gamma-ray events are associated with the peak storm electrification and development of electric fields necessary for the acceleration of electrons to high energies.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Smith, D., Trepanier, J., Alnussirat, S., Cherry, M., Legault, M., & Pleshinger, D. (2021). Thunderstorms Producing Sferic-Geolocated Gamma-Ray Flashes Detected by TETRA-II. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 126 (15) https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JD033765