Transient luminous events in the vicinity of Taiwan

R. R. Hsu, H. T. Su, Alfred B. Chen, L. C. Lee, M. Asfur, C. Price, Y. Yair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sprites were observed over Asian continent and over oceans around Taiwan in the summer of 2001 (Geophys. Res. Lett. 29(4) 2002). In this article, we report some characteristic differences between the oceanic and the land sprites. Qualitatively, the oceanic sprites are tended to be brighter than the land sprites. Also some of the oceanic sprites have very peculiar forms, which do not match any of the existing types. In two of the recorded sprites, the diffuse hair region contains a distinct short streak. We suspect that they probably are tracks left behind by micrometeorites, which might also have helped in lowering the threshold of the electric field needed for sprite generation and produced exceptionally bright sprites.For the optical survey, one of the observation sites was situated in the campus of the National Cheng Kung University, which is located at the center of the Tainan metropolitan area with more than one million residents. However, on June 7, 2001, we were able to recorded 6 oceanic sprites from this highly light-polluted site. Our experience exemplifies the exceptional brightness of the oceanic sprites. The Asian TLEs recorded in this survey were observed to occur above thunderstorms at stationary fronts and over localized thunderstorms. The sole attempt to observe TLEs over typhoon Chebi failed, hence, whether they exist over tropical storms in the Asian region is yet to be confirmed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-566
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The NCKU team is supported in part by the National Space Program Office and National Research Council, Taiwan, under contract numbers NSC90-NSPO(B)-ISUAL-FA09-01, NSC91-NSPO(B)-ISUAL-FA09-01 and NSC91-2112-M-006-002. R.R. Hsu and H.T. Su would like to thank the technical assistance of C.K. Chang and Y.J. Lee, and the logistic supports provided by Ali Mountain Weather Station and the Central Weather Bureau in Taiwan.


  • Landsprites
  • Oceanic sprites
  • Transient luminous events (TLEs)


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