The upper layer of clouds is positively charged while the lower layer of the clouds has a negative charge. Why this happens though is not entirely understood by the scientific community. There is an electrical field between the positive and negative charges and can increase in intensity during the storm. When the field becomes strong enough it begins to ionize the air and when the pressure builds up high enough the field releases electrical energy in the form of a lightening bolt.
Lightning is produced in thunderstorms when liquid and ice particles above the freezing level collide, and build up large electrical fields in the clouds. Once these electric fields become large enough, a giant “spark” occurs between them, like static electricity, reducing the charge separation. The lightning spark can occur between clouds, between the cloud and air, or between the cloud and ground.
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