A phenomenon known as “gigantic jet” lightning was observed over China, and scientists have described the rare event as seen back in 2010.
If you’ve never seen gigantic jet lightning but think it sounds cool, you’re not alone and you’re right. The unusual occurrence is normally spotted in different regions of the Earth, and the China phenom occurred well out of normal latitudes.
Space.com explains that the gigantic jet lightning was spotted way back in the summer of 2010, and adds:
“The gigantic jet took place in eastern China on Aug. 12, 2010 — the farthest a ground-based one has ever been observed from the equator, according to the research team … Previous jets were mainly seen in tropical or subtropical regions, but this one took place around 35 degrees latitude, about the same as the southern part of Tennessee in the United States.”
The gigantic jet lightning was recently described in the journal Chinese Science Bulletin, and researcher Jing Yang, an atmospheric scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, explained to OurAmazingPlanet.com that the sighting was “the first report from mainland China” of gigantic jet lightning.
MSNBC says that the gigantic jet lightning may not have been the only instance of the atmospheric event in the area — the site explains, quoting Yang:
“Yang added that her team had possibly seen another gigantic jet in the same area during a different thunderstorm, but said they needed to recheck the data to confirm … ‘It’s not as clear as this one if it is a gigantic jet or not,’ she said.”
Scientists are still working to understand gigantic jet lightning, but say that it seems it may provide a balancing effect during storms by “discharging the ionosphere.”