One of nature's most intense spectacles can be tamed with humble sea salt, the same stuff that graces some dinner tables. Researchers recently found that the frequency of lightning decreases by up to 90 percent in the presence of salty sea spray.
In water, salt splits into positive and negative ions that help conduct electricity. When lightning strikes, the more ions present, the more efficiently the electrical charge is drained from the cloud. That swift discharge causes a higher peak current and a brighter flash.
When lightning hits the sea, most of the electrical current spreads radially outward on the surface. Because seawater is a good conductor, the remaining current penetrates hemispherically downward and fully dissipates less than 10 feet below the surface.
Lightning doesn't strike the ocean as much as land, but when it does,it spreads out over the water, which acts as a conductor. It can hit boats that are nearby, and electrocute fish that are near the surface. If you're at the beach and hear thunder or see lightning, get out of the water.
When you put salt in water, the water molecules pull the sodium and chlorine ions apart so they are floating freely, increasing the conductivity. These ions are what carry electricity through the water with an electric current. In short, saltwater (water + sodium chloride) can help to produce electricity.
And discharges over Dead Sea water were nearly 40 times brighter. Asfur's research team thinks the positive and negative ions that salt splits into in water help conduct electricity. More ions mean a brighter flash.
There are many kinds of salt water, depending on which ions are present. These ions act just like a balloon that's been rubbed against your hair. They carry an electrical charge, and allow salt water to conduct electricity.
Lightning often strikes water, and water conducts electricity. That means that the currents from a lightning strike can seriously injure you. In fact, it can even kill you. This is why, when you hear thunder or see lightning, it's a good idea to avoid the pool, beach and any other large body of water.
He took the average strikes across the worlds oceans, compared it the surface area of the oceans, the number of whales estimated in the ocean, the time the are at the surface etc... and to cut a long story short, he reckons, yes, statistically whales must have been killed by lightning many times in the past few ...
Since water conducts electricity so well, there is no safe place in the water during an electrical storm. Lightning current dissipates in all directions. Even if the first strike was several miles away, you should never put yourself or your loved ones in danger.
Small boats can be protected with a portable lightning protection system. This would consist of a mast of sufficient height to provide the cone of protection connected by a flexible copper cable to a submerged ground plate of at least one square foot.
They concluded that the higher radiated fields from oceanic lightning are due to higher-amplitude return stroke currents in these flashes, potentially due to meteorological differences between land and ocean thunderstorms, or a difference in the lightning attachment process over the oceans.
The North and South Poles and the areas over the oceans have the fewest lightning strikes.
Basic principles suggest that the answer is 'very close' - within maybe tens of metres - so long as you are totally immersed in the water when the lightning strikes.
water and stay away from running water. This is because lightning can travel through a building's plumbing and metal pipes.
While lightning has been recorded to strike at a distance of 10 miles, the rule of thumb used for safety is a six mile distance. Thus, seeking shelter is recommended if the lightning is six miles away or less.
Despite being around five metres tall, giraffes are very unlikely to get struck by lightning. But this is mainly because lightning and giraffes are both fairly rare. There are only five well-documented fatal strikes on giraffes between 1996 and 2010.
Generally, strikes cause damage to the electrical system, the antenna, the tires and the rear windshield. Intense strikes can also ignite a fire within your vehicle, rendering it inoperable and endangering your life.
"If you are on the beach, chances are you're the tallest thing in the immediate area, which makes you more vulnerable to being struck directly by lightning," Jensenius told Live Science. "One of the problems is that people don't react quickly enough.
Do not swim in the ocean during or immediately following rainfall. To further reduce risk of illness, wait at least 12 hours after a heavy rain to resume swimming. It is safe to wade in at any time (except during a thunderstorm!). Heavy rain can wash bacteria and possibly harmful pathogens into the surf.
Just because it isn't thundering near you yet, doesn't mean you're out of harm's way during a storm. Avoid contact with open waters during rainstorms to reduce your chances of encountering dangerous conditions. Even if there is no lightning, it is always better to leave the pool in heavy rain.
Hardly any unbound water molecules are present. The researchers discovered that this saline solution displays an electrochemical stability of up to 2.6 volts –nearly twice as much as other aqueous electrolytes. The discovery could be the key to inexpensive, safe battery cells.
Because dissolved salts conduct electrical current, conductivity increases when there are more ions dissolved in the water.
The surface also holds a negative charge, so a rapid flow of positive ions in salt water with respect to this negatively charged surface results in an electrical potential difference, creating an electrical voltage.