A stepped leader model for lightning including charge distribution in branched channels

Wei Shi; Qingmin Li; Li Zhang
September 2014
Journal of Applied Physics;2014, Vol. 116 Issue 10, p1
Academic Journal
The stepped leader process in negative cloud-to-ground lightning plays a vital role in lightning protection analysis. As lightning discharge usually presents significant branched or tortuous channels, the charge distribution along the branched channels and the stochastic feature of stepped leader propagation were investigated in this paper. The charge density along the leader channel and the charge in the leader tip for each lightning branch were approximated by introducing branch correlation coefficients. In combination with geometric characteristics of natural lightning discharge, a stochastic stepped leader propagation model was presented based on the fractal theory. By comparing simulation results with the statistics of natural lightning discharges, it was found that the fractal dimension of lightning trajectory in simulation was in the range of that observed in nature and the calculation results of electric field at ground level were in good agreement with the measurements of a negative flash, which shows the validity of this proposed model. Furthermore, a new equation to estimate the lightning striking distance to flat ground was suggested based on the present model. The striking distance obtained by this new equation is smaller than the value estimated by previous equations, which indicates that the traditional equations may somewhat overestimate the attractive effect of the ground.


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