Dynamics of sprite streamers in varying air density

Jianqi Qin, Victor P. Pasko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Similarity laws for streamer discharges, which state that the properties of streamers such as streamer radius, electric field, and electron density should respectively scale as N-1, N1, and N2 in different but uniform air densities N, are important relations that have provided a general understanding of the mesospheric sprite discharges based on existing knowledge of streamers in laboratory conditions. Recent modeling studies, however, show that the properties of sprite streamers in varying air density do not follow exactly or even contradict the similarity relations. We present here simulation results and related analysis of sprite streamers to provide a unified view and resolve these contradictions. Our results indicate that the properties of streamers in varying air density are determined by the physical dimensions of streamers and the reduced electric field E/N, with the varying air density N being only one of the three factors controlling the streamer properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2031-2036
Number of pages6
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 28 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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