An improved ray theory and transfer matrix method-based model for lightning electromagnetic pulses propagating in earth-ionosphere waveguide and its applications

Zilong Qin, Mingli Chen, Baoyou Zhu, Ya Ping Du

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The Authors. An improved ray theory and transfer matrix method-based model for a lightning electromagnetic pulse (LEMP) propagating in Earth-ionosphere waveguide (EIWG) is proposed and tested. The model involves the presentation of a lightning source, parameterization of the lower ionosphere, derivation of a transfer function representing all effects of EIWG on LEMP sky wave, and determination of attenuation mode of the LEMP ground wave. The lightning source is simplified as an electric point dipole standing on Earth surface with finite conductance. The transfer function for the sky wave is derived based on ray theory and transfer matrix method. The attenuation mode for the ground wave is solved from Fock’s diffraction equations. The model is then applied to several lightning sferics observed in central China during day and night times within 1000 km. The results show that the model can precisely predict the time domain sky wave for all these observed lightning sferics. Both simulations and observations show that the lightning sferics in nighttime has a more complicated waveform than in daytime. Particularly, when a LEMP propagates from east to west (Φ= 270°) and in nighttime, its sky wave tends to be a double-peak waveform (dispersed sky wave) rather than a single peak one. Such a dispersed sky wave in nighttime may be attributed to the magneto-ionic splitting phenomenon in the lower ionosphere. The model provides us an efficient way for retrieving the electron density profile of the lower ionosphere and hence to monitor its spatial and temporal variations via lightning sferics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-727
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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