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Shock Value: Are Lianas Natural Lightning Rods?

Book Chapter

Yanoviak SP

2013

Tree Physiology

147-153

Lightning is among the most powerful and awe-inspiring environmental phenomena on earth. It is prominent in human cultural history and relatively well understood scientifically (Rakov and Uman 2007). Individual lightning strokes vary in intensity and may occur from cloud to ground (CG) ground to cloud (GC) or within and between clouds (intra/inter-cloud; IC). The visible electrical discharge (the “return stroke” formed when ascending and descending leaders meet) is both hot (ca. 30000°C) and powerful (ca. 30000A) and is the component of lightning that causes significant structural and biological damage (Fig. 15.1). Whereas the basic physics of lightning is relatively well understood (Rakov and Uman 2007) the ecology of lightning remains poorly studied.

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The Liana Ecology Project is supported by Marquette University and funded in part by the National Science Foundation.