Transient Luminous Events

Starting date:


Instrumentation and calibration:
A low light sensitive videocamera system is operated at ICO-OV for the observation of Transient Luminous Events (TLEs) such as sprites and giant jets, a form of lightning occurring in the atmosphere above thunderclouds. The system is mounting a Mintron MTV-12V6HC-EX camera and alternatively a Watec WAT-120N+, with a VOB412MTAIR-M Tamron lense at 4 mm focal length. Continuous nighttime video frame recording are analyzed in real time with the SpriteWatch code on the linux server on site and triggered frames saved for post-processing. The camera is currently pointing North-East (50 E) with a coverage of several hundreds kilometres depending on viewing conditions.

Project affiliation (s)
Present: EuroSprite, ChimTea

Related research programmes

  • Tropospheric background condition
  • Long-range transport
  • Why is this research important?
    First accidentally discovered two decades ago, sprites and other TLEs are nowadays known to be types of lightning that occur above intense thunderstorms in a variety of forms, appear as luminous optical emissions extending as high as 100 kilometres altitude and be tens of kilometres wide. TLEs couple tropospheric thunderstorm activity with the upper atmosphere and the lower ionosphere, impact on the global electric circuit, likely induce local production of NOx and add a further level of complexity to our understanding of thunderstorm processes and climate. Most of these phenomena occur over the continental Tropics because of the presence of stronger thunderstorm activity, however spaceborne observations show intense TLE activity also over the coastal areas, with TLE being produced even by very low and compact thunderclouds, rising new questions regarding their physics and distribution. The peculiarity of ICO-OV makes it an ideal site for studying TLEs under a large variety of meteorological and geographical conditions and is therefore a reference target for European observational campaigns performed in coordination with the Eurosprite network.

    Quick look

    Example of a video frame capturing a very wide sprite (about 100 km wide) observed towards lake Garda during a Eurosprite campaign.

    Organization (s):
    Via Gobetti 101, I-40129, Bologna

    Università di Bologna
    Viale Risorgimento 4, I-40136, Bologna

    Contact persons:
    Dr. Enrico Arnone
    e-mail: e [dot] arnoneatisac [dot] cnr [dot] it /p [dot] cristofanelliatisac [dot] cnr [dot] it
    phone: +39 051 6398038

    Where can I find the data?
    by direct request to: e [dot] arnone@isac [dot] cnr [dot] it/p [dot] cristofanelliatisac [dot] cnr [dot] it