Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972000 | Print ISBN: 9781412940818 | Online ISBN: 9781412972000| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Lightning and Thunder
Robert P. O'Shea
Among the most spectacular atmospheric phenomena are lightning and thunder, which are described in relation to perception in this entry. Lightning and thunder involve making light, sounds, and smells from the discharge of static electricity by clouds of water or ice, of dust or sand, and of ash. Discharges include lightning , St. Elmo's fire, sprites, blue jets , and elves . The latter three are lightning from the tops of clouds into the upper atmosphere and are difficult to see from the ground. But lightning, a blue-white arc of light about 10 times brighter than the sun, makes thunder with a peak loudness of 170 decibels (dB) and produces a faint odor of ozone. Lightning can blind, deafen, disable, and kill. St. Elmo's fire, a dim, blue-white steady glow from sharp objects, is visible at night, audible as a hiss, and produces the same odor. These phenomena involve electrical ...