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Increased Earth’s Lightning is due to the Sun-Study

It is quite surprising to know that some phenomenon on earth such as lightning storms can actually take place due to the sun which is 93 million miles away from use. According to a study in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the frequency of thunderbolts can actually depend on the sun.

Sun's Magnetic Field Boosts Earth Lightning  Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos

Sun’s Magnetic Field Boosts Earth Lightning
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos

“So the Sun is essentially a bar magnet. And as it rotates around half the time its field points towards the Earth and half the time its field points away from the Earth.” Study author Mathew Owens, an environmental physicist at the University of Reading in the UK.

Owens with his colleagues observed the lightning strikes in UK for a period of six years and discovered that when the magnetic field of Sun was pointed away from Earth, the lightning strikes in the country increased to 50 percent. He says that what they think is happening is that the magnetic field of the Sun ultimately affects the one of our planet too, skewing and stretching it, which allows more cosmic rays to hit the atmosphere.

That’s important, because cosmic rays can trigger lightning. “Some groups in America do outrageously cool things like fire rockets with metal wires attached to them into clouds. And that directly triggers the lightning. Because the lightning has a nice metal wire to travel down.”

Nature doesn’t do that, of course. But cosmic rays serve a similar purpose. “These energetic particles that are coming from space essentially produce thin channels of ionization that behave like a thin metal wire. And that enables lightning to occur from the bottom of the cloud to the Earth.”

The studies of this kind could improve the forecasts about lightning over time, according to Owens. And since in a warming world, it is predicted that the frequency of lightning strikes will increase, we might experience lesser viewing of the sun.

About Enozia Vakil

Enozia Vakil is an online entrepreneur, writer, editor and an avid reader. She has been associated with some of the best names in both online and print media, and holds a degree in Alternative Medicine.