University of Oulu

Koronczay, D., Lichtenberger, J., Clilverd, M. A., Rodger, C. J., Lotz, S. I., Sannikov, D. V., et al. (2019). The source regions of whistlers. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 124, 5082– 5096.

The source regions of whistlers

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Author: Koronczay, Dávid1,2; Lichtenberger, János1,2; Clilverd, Mark A.3;
Organizations: 1Department of Geophysics and Space Sciences, Eotvos University, Budapest, Hungary
2Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Sopron, Hungary
3British Antarctic Survey (NERC), Cambridge, UK
4Department of Physics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
5Space Science Directorate, South African National Space Agency, Hermanus, South Africa
6Institute of Cosmophysical Research and RadioWave Propagation, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Paratunka, Russia
7Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Brussels, Belgium
9Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 8.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: American Geophysical Union, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-09-26


We present a new method for identifying the source regions of lightning‐generated whistlers observed at a fixed location. In addition to the spatial distribution of causative lightning discharges, we calculate the ratio of lightning discharges transmitted into ground detectable whistlers as a function of location. Our method relies on the time of the whistlers and the time and source location of spherics from a global lightning database. We apply this method to whistlers recorded at 15 ground‐based stations in the Automatic Whistler Detector and Analyzer Network operating between 2007 and 2018 and to located lightning strokes from the World Wide Lightning Location Network database. We present the obtained maps of causative lightning and transmission rates. Our results show that the source region of whistlers corresponding to each ground station is around the magnetic conjugate point of the respective station. The size of the source region is typically less than 2,000 km in radius with a small fraction of sources extending to up to 3,500 km. The transmission ratio is maximal at the conjugate point and decreases with increasing distance from it. This conforms to the theory that whistlers detected on the ground propagated in a ducted mode through the plasmasphere, and thus, the lightning strokes of their causative spherics must cluster around the footprint of the ducts in the other hemisphere. Our method applied resolves the whistler excitation region mystery that resulted from correlation‐based analysis methods, concerning the source region of whistlers detected in Dunedin, New Zealand.

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Series: Journal of geophysical research. Space physics
ISSN: 2169-9380
ISSN-E: 2169-9402
ISSN-L: 2169-9380
Volume: 124
Issue: 7
Pages: 5082 - 5096
DOI: 10.1029/2019JA026559
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 115 Astronomy and space science
Funding: The research leading to these results received funding from the National Research, Development and Innovation Office of Hungary under grant agreements NN116408 and NN116446 and was supported by the UNKP‐18‐3 New National Excellence Program of the Ministry of Human Capacities of Hungary.
Copyright information: ©2019. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.