Salt and Lightning – A Bright Mixture!

At the very least, the study in this article hints that they are! Click the link to learn more, readers!

Lightning Over Ocean

Why Are Lightning ‘Superbolts’ More Common Over the Ocean?

Salt seems to be the reason why bolts are brighter over seas than over land

Nicola Jones, Hakai

JANUARY 14, 2021

This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Read more stories like this at

When marine scientist Mustafa Asfur made a tiny storm in a box, he stumbled on a possible solution to a long-standing mystery: why bolts of lightning are brighter over the ocean than they are over land.

More than 90 percent of lightning bolts strike over the continents, but the lightning that strikes the ocean can be far more intense. Rare “superbolts,” for example, with flashes 100 or 1,000 times brighter and more powerful than a regular bolt, are far more likely to hit the ocean. Exactly why this is so is still under debate.

Asfur—now at the Ruppin Academic Center in Israel—had set out to investigate how lightning bolts affect water chemistry. Instead, he discovered that, in the lab at least, lightning-like discharges are brighter over salt water than over fresh water or soil.

“We were surprised,” says atmospheric scientist Colin Price of Tel Aviv University in Israel, who was Asfur’s supervisor at the time of the experiments. “Everyone believed, including myself, that something in the thunderstorm controls the intensity of the flash; something in the cloud.” But the study shows, says Price, that what lies beneath has a big effect on brightness.

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2 thoughts on “Salt and Lightning – A Bright Mixture!

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