This study describes results from video observations of five intracloud flashes located ≤ 20 km from the camera and recorded with 6.1 µs exposure time and 6.66 µs frame intervals. Video data are supported with electric field change (E-change) and VHF measurements, with emphasis on the flash initiating event (IE) and initial breakdown (IB) stage. In four of the five flashes, the IE is accompanied by weak luminosity, ≤ 5% above background, lasting for 300–500 µs. Two of these four IEs were positive Narrow Bipolar Events (NBEs) with VHF powers of 43 and 990 W; these are the first (known) data showing visible light detected with a positive NBE. Two other IEs with weak luminosity had powers of 0.5 and 1 W, and the IE with no detected luminosity had a VHF power of 3 W. A typical IB cluster consists of several narrow pulses and one classic pulse in E-change data (along with many VHF pulses), and each example flash has 2–10 IB clusters in the first 5–50 ms. The luminosity of IB clusters was substantially greater than IE luminosity, ranging from 10 to 40% above background in four examples, while for one flash with 10 IB clusters, the luminosity range was 35–360% above background (average 190%). Luminosity durations of IB clusters were 520–1750 µs with average 1210 µs. For both IEs and IB clusters, increases in the detected luminosity were closely timed with substantial VHF emissions and decreased when VHF emissions weakened.
Stolzenburg, M., Marshall, T. C., Bandara, S., Hurley, B., & Siedlecki, R. (2021). Ultra-high speed video observations of intracloud lightning flash initiation. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 133(4), 1177–1202. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00703-021-00803-3