Advanced numerical model of lightning development: Application to studying the role of LPCR in determining lightning type
An advanced 3-D numerical model of lightning development is presented. The key features of the model include the probabilistic branching, bidirectional propagation, nonzero internal electric field, simultaneous growth of multiple branches, physical timing, channel decay, and, for the first time, probabilistic propagation field threshold. The new model can be used for computing electrical parameters of individual branches, including conductivity, current, and longitudinal electric field, each as a function of time, in different parts of the discharge tree. For illustrative purposes, the model was applied to studying the occurrence of lightning flashes of different type depending on the cloud charge structure, with emphasis on the lower positive charge region (LPCR). We demonstrated with the new model that the presence of relatively large (excessive) LPCR can prevent the occurrence of negative CG flashes by "blocking" the progression of descending negative leader from reaching ground. The blocking effect of excessive LPCR was found to occur when the vertical component of electric field near the cloud bottom was negative (downward directed). Further, we showed that significant reduction or absence of LPCR can eliminate the possibility of negative CG flashes and lead to normal-polarity IC flashes instead. The model predicts the polarity-asymmetry, which suggests that the amount of collected charge depends not only on the number of branches but also on the dynamics of their conductivity (lifetime) and the local cloud charge density.