How does the earth benifit from being struck by Lightning?

Lightning occurs less frequently in the winter because there is not as much instability and moisture in the atmosphere as there is in the summer. These two ingredients work together to make convective storms that can produce lightning. Without instability and moisture, strong thunderstorms are unlikely.

Although thunderstorms are less common in the winter, sometimes lightning can occur within snowstorms. Called thundersnow, relatively strong instability and abundant moisture may be found above the surface, such as above a warm front, rather than at the surface where it may be below freezing. Thundersnow is sometimes observed downstream of the Great Salt Lake and the Great Lakes during lake-effect snowstorms, too.

A “Bolt from the Blue” is a cloud-to-ground lighting flash which typically comes out of the back side of the thunderstorm cloud, travels a relatively large distance in clear air away from the storm cloud, and then angles down and strikes the ground. These lightning flashes have been documented to travel more than 25 miles away from the thunderstorm cloud. They can be especially dangerous because they appear to come from clear blue sky.

Lightning can appear to be many different colors depending on what the light travels through to get to your eyes. In snowstorms, where is somewhat rare, pink and green are often described as colors of lightning. Haze, dust, moisture, raindrops and any other particles in the atmosphere will affect the color by absorbing or diffracting a portion of the white light of lightning.

The odds of being struck in your lifetime (estimated to be 80 years) are 1 in 3000.

www.nssl.noaa.gov

The earth benefits from lightning in several ways. First, lightning helps the Earth maintain electrical balance. The Earth is recharged by thunderstorms. The Earth’s surface and the atmosphere conduct electricity easily – the Earth is charged negatively and the atmosphere, positively. There is always a steady current of electrons flowing upwards from the entire surface of the Earth. Thunderstorms help transfer the negative charges back to Earth (lightning is generally negatively charged). Without thunderstorms and lightning, the earth-atmosphere electrical balance would disappear in 5 minutes. Lightning helps plants. The air in our atmosphere is about 78% nitrogen, but it is in a form that plants cannot use. Lightning helps dissolve the nitrogen into the water to create a natural fertilizer so plants can absorb it through their roots. Lightning also produces ozone, a gas that helps protect the Earth from the dangerous rays of the sun.

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