© Photographer: Soldeandalucia| Agency: Lightning is one of the most beautiful displays in nature. It is also one of the most deadly natural phenomena known to man. With bolt temperatures hotter than the surface of and shockwaves beaming out in all directions, lightning is a lesson in physical science and humility.
Lightning is not distributed evenly around the planet, as shown in the map. About 70% of lightning occurs over land in the tropics where atmospheric convection is the greatest.
Beyond its powerful beauty, lightning presents science with one of its greatest local mysteries: How does it work? It is common knowledge that lightning is generated in electrically charged storm systems, but the method of cloud charging still remains elusive. In this article, we will look at lightning from the inside out so that you can understand this phenomenon. Lightning begins with a process that's less mysterious: the water cycle. To fully understand how the water cycle works, we must first understand the principles of evaporation and condensation. Evaporation is the process by which a liquid absorbs heat and changes to a vapor. A good example is a puddle of water after a rainfall.
Why does the puddle dry up? The water in the puddle absorbs heat from the sun and the environment and escapes as a vapor. 'Escape' is a good term to use when discussing evaporation. When the liquid is subjected to heat, its molecules move around faster.