Electrostatics

Lightning

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Lightning Physics


How is lightning caused?
Lightning is caused by electrostatic charges that get built up in clouds
One part of the clouds builds up with positive energy while the other part builds up with negative energy
If the build up of the charge becomes strong enough, the negative charges may jump from the positive side of another cloud, this is called sheet lightning, it may also jump to the ground. (regentsprep.org)


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How Lightning is made

Stage 1:

Air currents in the storm cloud cause charge separation. The top of the cloud becomes positively charged, and the bottom becomes negatively charged. (Ryerson, M)



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How Lightning is made

Stage 2:

Negative charges on the bottom of the cloud induce a positive charge on the ground below the cloud by repelling negative charges in the ground (Ryerson, M)

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How Lightning is made

Stage 3:

When the bottom of the cloud has accumulated enough negative charges, the attraction of the positive charges below causes electrons in the bottom of the cloud to move toward the ground. (Ryerson, M)

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How Lightning is made

Stage 4:

When the electrons get close to the ground, the attract positive ions that surge upward, completing the connection between the cloud and ground. This is the spark you see as lightning. (Ryerson, M)

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Works Cited

Ryerson, M. On science 9. Whitby, Ontario: Mc-Graw Ryerson Limited, 2009. Print.

"Lightning Physics." Lightning Physics. N.p., n.d. Web.