'Gigantic Jet' Lightning Spotted Over China - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

'Gigantic Jet' Lightning Spotted Over China

Posted: Updated:

YAHOO.COM - A rare glimpse of a "gigantic jet" — a huge and mysterious burst of lightning that connects a thunderstorm with the upper atmosphere — was made over China in 2010 and was recently described by scientists.

The gigantic jet took place in eastern China on Aug. 12, 2010 — the farthest a ground-based one has ever been observed from the equator, according to the research team.

Previous jets were mainly seen in tropical or subtropical regions, but this one took place around 35 degrees latitude, about the same as the southern part of Tennessee in the United States.

"This is the first report from mainland China," lead researcher Jing Yang, an atmospheric scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, told OurAmazingPlanet. The results were recently published in the Chinese Science Bulletin.

Researchers got a good look at the storm using a variety of tools, including Doppler radar data and weather pictures in the infrared band of radiation.

The gigantic jet peaked at about 55 miles (89 kilometers) above the ground, far above the cloudtops that were measured with Doppler radar at an altitude of 11 miles (17 km). [Infographic: Earth's Atmosphere Top to Bottom]

Yang added that her team had possibly seen another gigantic jet in the same area during a different thunderstorm, but said they needed to recheck the data to confirm.

"It's not as clear as this one if it is a gigantic jet or not," she said.

It wasn't until the last century that electrical activity above thunderclouds was scientifically proven, although rumors based on undocumented observations circulated long before that time.

These electrical discharges can take several forms, such as sprites (orange-red flashes) and blue jets, which appear as blue cones.

The first confirmed gigantic jet was reported in 2001, after American researchers saw a blue jet reaching 44 miles (70 km) above the clouds at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. This was nearly double the 26-mile (42 km) limit for jets that was previously observed.

Two years later, researchers described shapes such as "tree jets" and "carrot jets" that they spotted during a 2002 thunderstorm over the South China Sea near the Philippines.

While scientists are still trying to understand how these gigantic jets work, they believe the jets balance out the electrical charge during thunderstorms by discharging the ionosphere — a part of the upper atmosphere filled with charged particles.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • BACK TO SCHOOL: See where your school ranks in performance

    BACK TO SCHOOL: See where your school ranks in performance

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 9:18 PM EDT2014-08-27 01:18:51 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Two schools in the Spokane area received top rankings based on a new assessment, according to the Washington Policy Center. The Washington State Board of Education released a new assessment of the quality of schools around the state Tuesday. The assessment ranked schools on an "A to F-" scale, with 14 percent of schools in in and around Spokane finishing with A's or B's.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Two schools in the Spokane area received top rankings based on a new assessment, according to the Washington Policy Center. The Washington State Board of Education released a new assessment of the quality of schools around the state Tuesday. The assessment ranked schools on an "A to F-" scale, with 14 percent of schools in in and around Spokane finishing with A's or B's.>>
  • Throwback Thursday! Look At 'Sunshine Shelly' Through The Years!

    Throwback Thursday! Look At 'Sunshine Shelly' Through The Years!

    Thursday, March 20 2014 1:04 PM EDT2014-03-20 17:04:11 GMT
    KHQ.COM - It's throwback Thursday! Here is a slideshow we would like to share of Shelly Monahan through the years! For those of you who have been in Spokane for many years, and saw her through her "Sunshine Shelly" days, you will probably remember the Shelly from back in those days. Enjoy!>>
    KHQ.COM - It's throwback Thursday! Here is a slideshow we would like to share of Shelly Monahan through the years! For those of you who have been in Spokane for many years, and saw her through her "Sunshine Shelly" days, you will probably remember the Shelly from back in those days. Enjoy!>>
  • PHOTOS: National Dog Day!

    PHOTOS: National Dog Day!

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 2:02 PM EDT2014-08-27 18:02:10 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Tuesday, August 26th is when we celebrate man's best friend! It's National Dog Day! National Dog Day was created back in 2004, and it gives us a chance to stop and appreciate those who offer us their unconditional love, support, and acceptance: our pups! INSIDE>>>|Submit photos of YOUR dog!|>>
    KHQ.COM - Tuesday, August 26th is when we celebrate man's best friend! It's National Dog Day! National Dog Day was created back in 2004, and it gives us a chance to stop and appreciate those who offer us their unconditional love, support, and acceptance: our pups! INSIDE>>>|Submit photos of YOUR dog!|>>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • VA: No proof delays in veteran care caused hospital deaths

    VA: No proof delays in veteran care caused hospital deaths

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 9:11 PM EDT2014-08-27 01:11:37 GMT
    KHQ.COM- The Department of Veterans Affairs says there's no proof that delays in care caused any deaths at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.Revelations that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care rocked the agency this past spring, bringing to light scheduling problems and allegations of misconduct at other hospitals as well.NBC News obtained a draft report from the VA's Office of Inspector General Tuesday. The draft report says while investigators found substantial delays in care an...>>
    KHQ.COM- The Department of Veterans Affairs says there's no proof that delays in care caused any deaths at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.Revelations that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care rocked the agency this past spring, bringing to light scheduling problems and allegations of misconduct at other hospitals as well.NBC News obtained a draft report from the VA's Office of Inspector General Tuesday. The draft report says while investigators found substantial delays in care an...>>
  • UPDATE: Sergeant who shot herself at Fort Lee dies

    UPDATE: Sergeant who shot herself at Fort Lee dies

    Monday, August 25 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-08-25 22:58:27 GMT
    Police officer patrols the entrance of Fort Lee in VirginiaPolice officer patrols the entrance of Fort Lee in Virginia
    FORT LEE, Va. (AP) - A commanding general at a Virginia Army base says an enraged soldier with a gun barricaded herself in an office, then shot herself in the head as officials tried to negotiate with her.>>
    FORT LEE, Va. (AP) - A commanding general at a Virginia Army base says an enraged soldier with a gun barricaded herself in an office, then shot herself in the head as officials tried to negotiate with her. Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons says the soldier went on a rampage, throwing objects. >>
  • Ice bucket challenge goes awry, firefighters hurt

    Ice bucket challenge goes awry, firefighters hurt

    Friday, August 22 2014 4:50 PM EDT2014-08-22 20:50:01 GMT
    CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. - A charity stunt that has grown into a social media phenomenon went terribly wrong for four Kentucky firefighters who were injured when a fire truck's ladder got too close to a power line after they dumped water on college students who were taking part in an "ice bucket challenge.">>
    CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. - A charity stunt that has grown into a social media phenomenon went terribly wrong for four Kentucky firefighters who were injured when a fire truck's ladder got too close to a power line after they dumped water on college students who were taking part in an "ice bucket challenge.">>