Probing Atmospheric Electric Fields in Thunderstorms through Radio Emission from Cosmic-Ray-Induced Air Showers

P. Schellart*, T. N. G. Trinh, S. Buitink, A. Corstanje, J. E. Enriquez, H. Falcke, J. R. Horandel, A. Nelles, J. P. Rachen, L. Rossetto, O. Scholten, S. ter Veen, S. Thoudam, U. Ebert, C. Koehn, C. Rutjes, A. Alexov, J. M. Anderson, I. M. Avruch, M. J. BentumG. Bernardi, P. Best, A. Bonafede, F. Breitling, J. W. Broderick, M. Brueggen, H. R. Butcher, B. Ciardi, E. de Geus, M. de Vos, S. Duscha, J. Eisloeffel, R. A. Fallows, W. Frieswijk, M. A. Garrett, J. Griessmeier, A. W. Gunst, G. Heald, J. W. T. Hessels, M. Hoeft, H. A. Holties, E. Juette, V. I. Kondratiev, M. Kuniyoshi, G. Kuper, G. Mann, R. McFadden, D. McKay-Bukowski, J. P. McKean, M. Mevius, J. Moldon, M. J. Norden, E. Orru, H. Paas, M. Pandey-Pommier, R. Pizzo, A. G. Polatidis, W. Reich, H. Rottgering, A. M. M. Scaife, D. J. Schwarz, M. Serylak, O. Smirnov, M. Steinmetz, J. Swinbank, M. Tagger, C. Tasse, M. C. Toribio, R. J. van Weeren, R. Vermeulen, C. Vocks, M. W. Wise, O. Wucknitz, P. Zarka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present measurements of radio emission from cosmic ray air showers that took place during thunderstorms. The intensity and polarization patterns of these air showers are radically different from those measured during fair-weather conditions. With the use of a simple two-layer model for the atmospheric electric field, these patterns can be well reproduced by state-of-the-art simulation codes. This in turn provides a novel way to study atmospheric electric fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article number165001
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2015




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