An improved ELF/VLF method for globally geolocating sprite-producing lightning

Colin Price, Mustafa Asfur, Walter Lyons, Thomas Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The majority of sprites, the most common of transient luminous events (TLEs) in the upper atmosphere, are associated with a sub-class of positive cloud-to-ground lightning flashes (+CGs) whose characteristics are slowly being revealed. These +CGs produce extremely low frequency (ELF) and very low frequency (VLF) radiation detectable at great distances from the parent thunderstorm. During the STEPS field program in the United States, ELF/VLF transients associated with sprites were detected in the Negev Desert, Israel, some 11,000 km away. Within a two-hour period on 4 July 2000, all of the sprites detected optically in the United States produced detectable ELF/VLF transients in Israel. All of these transients were of positive polarity (representing positive lightning). Using the VLF data to obtain the azimuth of the transients, and the ELF data to calculate the distance between the source and receiver, we remotely determined the position of the sprite-forming lightning with an average locational error of 184 km (error of 1.6%).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-1-1-4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes


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