Red Sprite Lightning over the Ama Drime Snow Mountain by Zhengjie Wu
This is an elegant example of red sprite lightning, captured by photographer Zhengjie Wu. Zhengjie was camping at an altitude of 4800 metres by Zongzuo Lake in China, when a blizzard struck. After the snow passed, thunderstorms continued in the distance, and Zhengjie seized the opportunity to take photos, capturing these elusive sprites in action.
“I was very lucky.”
SPRITE stands for Stratospheric Perturbations Resulting from Intense Thunderstorm Electrification. Like the lightning we’re all more familiar with, red sprites involve electrical discharges from thunderclouds…but the similarities end there.
The discharges flow tens of kilometres upwards from storm clouds, through a region of the atmosphere known as the mesosphere. Though there’s still much to learn about this pretty phenomenon, scientists think it may be a process that balances out the discharge of regular lightning.
Since red sprites only last a fraction of a second, they can be hard to observe…and to photograph, making Zhengjie Wu’s capture all the more unusual.
Photo location: Tibet, China
Photographer based: Chongqing, China
Camera: Nikon D810+ Sigma 14mm F1.8