Lightning Contribution to Overall Whistler Mode Wave Intensities in the Plasmasphere
Electromagnetic waves generated by lightning propagate into the plasmasphere as dispersed whistlers. They can therefore influence the overall wave intensity in space, which, in turn, is important for dynamics of the Van Allen radiation belts. We analyze spacecraft measurements in low-Earth orbit as well as in high-altitude equatorial region, together with a ground-based estimate of lightning activity. We accumulate wave intensities when the spacecraft are magnetically connected to thunderstorms and compare them with measurements obtained when thunderstorms are absent. We show that strong lightning activity substantially affects the wave intensity in a wide range of L-shells and altitudes. The effect is observed mainly between 500 Hz and 4 kHz, but its frequency range strongly varies with L-shell, extending up to 12 kHz for L lower than 3. The effect is stronger in the afternoon, evening, and night sectors, consistent with more lightning and easier wave propagation through the ionosphere.
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Geophysical Research Letters
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