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What (and how much) damage does lightning cause?

What (and how much) damage does lightning cause?

Lightning strikes have been the subject of in-depth study for many years, but many aspects of their behavior have not yet been fully elucidated. The truth is, when they are unleashed in the sky, they provide exceptional light shots. Lightning is actually a powerful electrical discharge, light (lightning) and sound (thunder): its “habitat” is large storm clouds, which we create especially in summer. It is the result of electric charges generated in collisions between water droplets, ice and gravel. Between cloud and soil (most feared, but minor), clouds and clouds or eruptions can occur inside the cloud.

Fire. The heat generated by lightning is impressive. This causes the sap of the tree to evaporate – the pressure it creates causes the trunk to explode – and triggers a fire: a US study warns that with global warming, lightning-induced fires will increase in areas such as the Mediterranean. Dry and hot. If the discharge passes through the sandy soil, it forms molten tube glass structures and is subjected to electric shock.

The most affected area of ​​our planet is the tropical belt, where more than 800 million trees are damaged by lightning each year, a quarter of which die: researchers at the Smithsonian Institutional Tropical Research Institute estimate this. “Lightning strikes the largest trees in the tropical forest,” explained Evan Cora of the group. In high lightning strikes, there are usually fewer large trees per hectare.

Nine out of 10 survivors of lightning: Roy Cleveland Sullivan, an American park ranger, was attacked on seven different occasions between 1942 and 1977 and survived all the time, so he became known as the “human lightning rod”. However, the most important effect is cardiac arrest and indeed cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be done immediately. Unfortunately, there can be other damage to the nervous system, for example, even in the long run.

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I register. The longest lightning ever recorded illuminated the skies of Brazil at a distance of 709 km in 2018: in practice, far more than the crow flying distance between Milan and Salerno. Longest time recorded in Argentina in 2019: 16.7 seconds. These are new records and twice as many as previous records. These numbers were detected by satellite, not by ground sensors. It was lightning between clouds that did not hit the ground and occurred in the plains of South America: there, thunderstorms combine to form “thunder monsters” where massive electric charges accumulate.