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Thunder and Lightning Science Project

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Jessica Pelley

on 27 May 2013

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Transcript of Thunder and Lightning Science Project

Colors of Lightning Red: indicates rain in cloud.
Blue: indicates hail in cloud.
White: low humidity. Sounds of Thunder A clap is the sound of thunder when the lightning channel is perpendicular to the observer’s line of sight. A rumble is the sound of thunder when the lightning channel is roughly parallel to the observer’s line of sight. An example of this is when lightning follows a path from one side of the cloud to another. A combination of claps and rumbles. THUNDER AND LIGHTNING By: Ashley Feltham and Jessica Pelley Introduction Occurring in over 40 000 locations around the world, thunder and lightning is a frightening but spectacular weather phenomenon. In prehistoric times, people believed a thunderstorm was the sounds of the gods roaring in anger at the people of earth. Today, we know it is a strike of electricity five times hotter than the sun’s surface, producing a massive shock wave of sound. This presentation will overview what causes these thunderstorms, identifying thunder and lightning, three phase life cycle, benefits of these storms, Canadian records, safety, and interesting facts. What is lightning? Lightning strikes are electric currents much like the ones built up from shuffling across a carpet and touching a metal object. In a thundercloud, small bits of ice bump into each other. These collisions make an electrical charge. After some time, the whole cloud is electrically charged, usually negatively. Opposite charges attract each other, so a positive charge forms on the ground. The electrical charge is mostly concentrated in taller objects like skyscrapers, or mountains. The positive charged ground eventually connects with the negative charged cloud and lightning is formed. What is thunder? When lightning strikes, the air around it is heated instantly. Heat causes the molecules of air to expand or fly out in all directions. Molecules seek more room and collide violently with layers of cool air and set up a great air wave that has the rumbling sound of thunder. You see lightning, then hear the thunder because thunder only travels 340 meters per second compared to lightning traveling 299 792 458 meters per second. Benefits of Lightning Most people do not realize that lightning also has its many benefits. Lightning provides half of the world’s natural fertilizer . Also without these storms the earth would lose its electric charge in seconds. A lightning strike is also accountable for changing nitrogen into useable forms plants can use to survive. This nitrogen fixation continues the nitrogen cycle necessary to life on Earth. Developing Stage This stage starts with masses of moisture lifted up into the atmosphere. The moisture rapidly cools into liquid drops of water because it is cooler at higher altitudes. This makes a cumulus cloud. As water vapor condenses, latent heat is released warming the air and making it less dense then the dry air around it. The air rises in an updraft through convection, and this creates a low-pressure zone beneath the storm. Mature Stage In this stage, warm air rises until it reaches even warmer air and can not rise further. The air is forced to spread out, giving the storm a anvil shape. The water droplets come together in larger droplets and freeze to become ice particles. When these fall they melt to become rain. If the updraft is strong enough the droplets are held so they do not melt completely, and they fall as hail. While updrafts are still present, the falling rain creates down drafts. The presence of both marks the mature stage of the storm, and produces Cumulonimbus clouds. This stage can have considerable turbulence inside, and this causes strong winds, severe lightning and tornadoes. Dissipating Stage In the dissipation stage the thunderstorm is ended by the downdraft. This stage occurs rather quickly, around 20-30 minutes into the life of the storm. The downdrafts pushes down out of the thunderstorm until it hits ground, and spreads out. This phenomenon is known as down burst. The cool air that goes to ground cuts off the inflow of the thunderstorm, causing updraft to end. The storm is then dissipated. Safety Look for darkening skies, flashes of lightning, or increasing winds. Don’t wait for the rain to begin, as lightning can come before rain. If you hear the sound of thunder, find a safe place. The best place to go is a building or a car. If there is no shelter around you, stay away from trees. Crouch down in the open area, keeping twice as far away from a tree as far as it is tall. If you’re with a group of people stay about 15 feet from each other. Stay out of water and avoid metal. Wait thirty minutes after seeing last lightning strike or hearing thunder to return outside. Interesting Facts Cats groom themselves before a storm. Thunderstorms generate static electricity, and this separates a cat’s coat hair.
During a thunderstorm in 1932, fifty-two wild geese flying over Manitoba were killed by a lightning strike. The geese fell to the Earth, and were picked up and distributed to the town for dinner.
It would take 200 million trumpets blowing for 13 seconds to produce the acoustic energy in a crack of thunder.
About 71% of people struck by lightning survive.
A lightning bolt has a diameter only about the size of a quarter.
Your chance of being killed by lightning is the same chance of dying falling out of bed. Three Phase Life Cycle No matter the type, every thunderstorm goes through three phases: the developing stage, the mature stage, and the dissipation stage. Depending on the conditions in the atmosphere at the time, the three stages take about 30 minutes to complete. John B. King Explosion On June 26, 1930 thirty people were killed near Brockville, Ontario when a lightning bolt struck the dynamite laden craft. The fire caused by the lightning ignited the dynamite on board, exploding the boat. Eleven people were rescued, and only one body was recovered of the thirty dead. Conclusion Thunder and lightning are one of the most interesting types of weather. They are identifiable through the color of the strike or the sound of the thunder and with only a short thirty minute phase, these storms produce massive amounts of static electricity. The storms produce a fascinating light show, and though sometimes dangerous, they are necessary to survive on Earth. Types of Lightning Forked lightning is lightning in which visible branches are present.
Streak lightning is a bolt that appears to be a single arc shaped line. Ribbon lightning is viewed as parallel streaks of light. It is caused when winds separate the strokes of the bolt.
Chain lightning (also called Bead lightning) is characterized by a bolt that breaks into dotted lines as it fades Forked Lightning Streak Lightning Ribbon Lightning Chain Lightning Forked Lightning Ribbon Lightning Chain Lightning Anvil Shaped Cloud Nitrogen Fixation by Lightning
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