Thread: Ask a Scientist
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Old 21.04.2010, 14:17
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Mostly right, but needs a bit of clarification. In both volcanoes and thunderstorms there are particles in the air, ash and ice respectively. Light particles rise, heavy particles fall.(1) As they do, the knock into each other, knocking of electrons. So now you have a cloud with a lot of surplus electrons, which gives the cloud a negative charge.(2) Anywhere else (ground, other part of cloud, etc), may have a positive charge.(3) Negative & positive meet along a "feeler" (4) = discharge aka lightning.
(1) Except for the heavy particles, e.g. hailstones, that also rise in updraughts. Repeatedly.
(And the light particles in downdraughts that, well, go down.)
(2) Unless it becomes positively charged.
(3) Or it may have a negative charge. See (2) above.
(4) "feeler"? No. The leader connects with one of a number of streamers that extend towards it.

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