Mano del Desierto, Atacama Desert, Chile,
Spectacular, powerful, and sometimes deadly, lightning is one of the most common weather phenomena. Recent satellite data suggests that there are more than 3 million lightning flashes worldwide per day, or about 40 flashes per second on average. This includes flashes within or between clouds as well as flashes extending from cloud to ground. Lightning has also been observed on the planets Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. Yet despite its frequent occurrence, lightning is still not completely understood.There are three primary types of lightning, defined by what is at the “ends” of a flash channel. They are intracloud (IC), which occurs within a single thundercloud unit; cloud to cloud (CC), which starts and ends between two different “functional” thundercloud units; and cloud to ground, that primarily originates in the thundercloud and terminates on an Earth surface, but may also occur in the reverse direction, that is ground to cloud.