There are certain climatic phenomena that have drawn people’s attention since ancient times and even today they continue to be the subject of debate and studies among scientists. Electrical storms represent one of these phenomena that, although some have been explained, others such as the origin and formation of lightning or the turn of tornadoes, continue to be investigated.
One of the most curious phenomena is that of thunder. Therefore, in this AgroCorrn article we are going to explain in detail what thunder is and how it occurs , among more curiosities about it.
Thunderstorms and lightning
Two different but closely related climatic manifestations are thunder and lightning . Both phenomena are typical of thunderstorms . The origin of electrical storms is in the rise of large masses of hot and humid air, as a result of rising air currents. These air masses begin to cool and condense as they rise, forming clouds known as cumulonimbus, which can reach 20 km in height.
As this air mass condenses, it gives rise to drops of ice and water that precipitate from the top to the earth’s surface, passing through the clouds to do so. As these drops fall, they collide with other drops and increase in size. At the same time that these drops fall, a current of air is produced inside the cloud that descends and that will give rise to the wind on the earth’s surface.
Benjamin Franklin found in his famous kite experiment that clouds possess electric fields. As it is thought (although still debated) when the upward air current that produced the cloud continues and collides with the downward air currents that create the precipitating water droplets, they create electrical discharges that will give rise to lightning.
Learn more about these elements of thunderstorms in this other AgroCorrn article about the question about Are lightning and thunder dangerous? , discover how much they are and much more.
What is thunder and how is it formed?
The sound expression generated by lightning is called thunder . The origin of thunder has been a hotly debated topic over the years. It was Aristotle, in the third century, who provided a first theory about their formation and it was that they were generated as a result of the collision between the clouds. Over the years, this first application has varied and has been perfected, until today, in which there is already a consensus on its formation.
The spectroscopic analyzes that have been carried out indicate that the average temperature of a ray is 20,400 K (about 2,100º C), reaching between 20,000 K and 30,000 K at first, and then descending to about 10,000 K. These variations in temperatures occur only in the 50 microseconds that lightning lasts. Temperature causes lightning to expand through the cold air around it at a speed greater than the speed of sound, causing hot air particles to vibrate within the cold atmosphere. This is called a shock wave and is similar to an explosion that spreads out in all directions, creating what we call thunder.
Considering the nature of lightning and the distance from the person, the sound produced by thunder can range from a loud crack to a long roar, which can even reach 110 decibels, which is close to the threshold of pain for the human ear. .
Various lightning simulation experiments have been carried out, which have provided data quite consistent with this explanation of the phenomenon, although the physical mechanisms that give rise to this process are still debated in the scientific field.
The speed of light and the sound of thunder
Because the speed of light is much higher than the speed of propagation of sound , when this phenomenon occurs, we will first see the lightning and then we hear the thunder . Another factor that influences the sound of thunder is the region in which it occurs and the formation of the Earth in that area, which can influence echoes, as occurs in cities with many tunnels and buildings.
In short, the climatic phenomenon of the production of lightning and thunder teaches us all the power of nature.
Now that you know what thunder is and how it occurs, you may also be interested in knowing the answer to this other curious phenomenon: Why trees attract lightning .
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