Remote sensing and modeling of lightning caused long recovery events within the lower ionosphere using VLF/LF radio wave propagation
On the 4 November 2012 at 3:04:27 UT a strong lightning in the midst of the North Sea affected the propagation conditions of VLF/LF transmitter radio signals from NRK (Iceland, 37.5 kHz) and GBZ (UK, 19.58 kHz) received at 5246° N 8° E (NW Germany). The amplitude and phase dips show a recovery time of 6–12 min pointing to a LOng Recovery Early VLF (LORE) event. Clear assignment of the causative return stroke in space and time was possible with data from the WWLLN (Worldwide Lightning Location Network). Based on a return stroke current model the electric field is calculated and an excess electron density distribution which decays over time in the lower ionosphere is derived. Ionization, attachment and recombination processes are modeled in detail. Entering the electron density distribution in VLF/LF radio wave propagation calculations using the LWPC (Long Wavelength Propagation Capability) code allows to model the VLF/LF amplitude and phase behavior by adjusting the return stroke current moment. The results endorse and quantify the conception of lower ionosphere EMP heating by strong – but not necessarily extremely strong – return strokes of both polarities.