Brook, Marx Department of Physics, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, New Mexico.
Last reviewed:June 2020
- Types of sferics
- Lightning detection
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Electromagnetic radiations produced primarily by lightning strokes from thunderstorms. It is estimated that globally there occur about 2000 thunderstorms at any one time, and that these give rise to about 100 lightning strokes every second. The radiations are short impulses that usually last a few milliseconds, with a frequency content ranging from the low audio well into the gigahertz range. Sferics (short for atmospherics) are easily detected with an ordinary amplitude-modulation (AM) radio tuned to a region between radio stations, especially if there are thunderstorms within a few hundred miles. These sounds or noises have been identified and characterized with specific names, for example, hiss, pop, click, whistler, and dawn chorus. They fall into what is generally known as radio noise. See also: Atmospheric electricity; Electromagnetic radiation; Lightning; Thunderstorm
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