I am trying to understand (i.e. reconcile with established
electromagnetic theory) what happens when lightning strikes the surface
of a large body of water, such as an ocean. It appears that empirically
the field/current dissipate mostly radially along the surface of the
water, while only a small amount of energy makes its way vertically
below the surface.
I have searched high and low for an authoritative model, but to no
avail. Some invoke the Faraday Cage principle, whilst others invoke the
Skin Effect, but nothing terribly compelling.