How much current does a lightning carry?

Was watching one of the earliest of the rains this season and this question occurred to me. Probably we all would have read it in Physics in school but giving myself the liberty to judge everybody else’s memory by the quality of mine, I allowed myself to post the answer. 🙂

An average bolt of negative lightning carries an electric current of 30 kiloamperes (kA), and transfers a charge of fivecoulombs and 500 MJ. Large bolts of lightning can carry up to 120 kA and 350 coulombs. The voltage is proportional to the length of the bolt.

An average bolt of positive lightning carries an electric current of 300 kA or about 10 times that of negative lightning.

Just as an addendum…this is how thunder is produced.

Lightning rapidly heats the air in its immediate vicinity to around 20,000 °C (36,000 °F) – about three times the temperature of the surface of the Sun. This compresses the surrounding clear air and creates a supersonic shock wave which decays to an acoustic wave that is heard as thunder.

2 Responses to “How much current does a lightning carry?”

  1. 1 soni
    June 21, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    nice blog…njoyed it thoroughly ..hope to c u continue with a post a day . cheers !!

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So what’s this blog about?

Another attempt? Well yes. Attempting to figure out another sustainable model (there are some other attempts going on parallel-ly). Well, we have a lot of questions in mind. we read up stuff, we do some research to find answers to these questions. This is an attempt to publish that little 15-20 minute research.
June 2009
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