Researchers in the Department of Meterology believe they have discovered new evidence to suggest lightning is triggered not only by cosmic rays from space, as has previously been thought, but also by energetic particles from the Sun.
The Berkshire scientists found a link between increased thunderstorm activity and streams of high-energy particles accelerated by the solar wind, suggesting that particles from space help trigger lightning bolts.
After the arrival of a solar wind at the Earth, the researchers showed there was an average of 422 lightning strikes across the UK in the following 40 days, compared to an average of 321 lightning strikes in the 40 days prior the arrival of the solar wind.
The rate of lightning strikes peaked between 12 and 18 days after the arrival of the solar wind.
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