Ionospheric plasma dynamics and instability caused by upward currents above thunderstorms

C. L. Kuo, L. C. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Thunderstorms are electric generators, which drive currents upwardly into the ionosphere. In this paper, we examine the effects of thunderstorm upward current on the ionosphere. We use a thunderstorm model to calculate the three-dimensional current flows in the atmosphere and to simulate the upward current above the thunderstorm with the tripole-charge structure. The upward current flows into the ionosphere, while the associated electric field causes the plasma E × B motion. The caused plasma motion redistributes the plasma density, leading to ionospheric density variations. In the nighttime ionosphere, the E × B motion may also cause the formation of plasma bubbles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3240-3253
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • plasma bubble
  • TEC variations
  • thunderstorm


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