Joint radio and optical observations of the most radio-powerful intracloud lightning discharges
The most radio-powerful intracloud lightning emissions are associated with a phenomenon variously called "narrow bipolar events" or "compact intracloud discharges". This article examines in detail the coincidence and timing relationship between, on the one hand, the most radio-powerful intracloud lightning events and, on the other hand, optical outputs (or lack thereof) of the same discharge process. This is done, first, using coordinated very high frequency (VHF) and optical observations from the FORTE satellite and, second, using coordinated sferic and all-sky optical observations from the Los Alamos Sferic Array. In both cases, it is found that the sought coincidences are exceedingly rare. Moreover, in the handful of coincidences between optical and intense radio emissions that have been identified, the radio emissions differ from their usual behavior, by being accompanied by approximately simultaneous "conventional" lightning radio emissions. It is implied that the most radio-powerful intracloud emission process essentially differs from ordinary incandescent lightning.