Storm chaser Rob Neep recently captured one of the best-ever videos of a highly elusive transient luminous event called 'blue jets.' The jets formed over Sonora, Mexico on August 3, 2021, and were captured from St. David, Arizona.
"I couldn't believe my eyes. I was actually looking for sprites when the jets appeared. They were definitely visible to the naked eye, both my cousin and I observed them," Neep told SpaceWeather.com.1
"Excellent--perhaps the best example of classic blue jets we've seen in a long time!" said Oscar van der Velde of the Lightning Research Group at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya after watching the video.
Van der Velde said they are not sure why ground-based observers see them so rarely. "It might have something to do with their blue color. Earth's atmosphere naturally scatters blue light, which makes them harder to see. Blue jets may be much more common than we think."1
According to van der Velde, 'there can be considerable production of NOx and ozone by these discharges, potentially affecting the chemistry of the atmosphere.'
Some blue jets might rise high enough to touch the ionosphere, forming a new and poorly understood branch of the global electrical circuit.
Blue jets are optical ejections from the top of the electrically active core regions of thunderstorms, but not directly associated with cloud-to-ground lightning. Following their emergence from the top of the thundercloud, they typically propagate upward in narrow cones of about 15 degrees, fanning out and disappearing at heights of about 40 to 50 km (25 - 30 miles) with a lifetime of a couple of tenths of a second.2
1 Blue lighting in the stratosphere - SpaceWeather
2 Red Sprites, Blue Jets and Elves - Albany.edu
Featured image credit: Rob Neep