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Air-earth current density measurements at Lerwick; implications for seasonality in the global electric circuit

Harrison, R.G. and Nicoll, K. A. (2008) Air-earth current density measurements at Lerwick; implications for seasonality in the global electric circuit. Atmospheric Research, 89 (1-2). pp. 181-193. ISSN 0169-8059

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosres.2008.01.008

Abstract/Summary

Atmospheric electricity measurements were made at Lerwick Observatory in the Shetland Isles (60°09′N, 1°08′W) during most of the 20th century. The Potential Gradient (PG) was measured from 1926 to 84 and the air-earth conduction current (Jc) was measured during the final decade of the PG measurements. Daily Jc values (1978–1984) observed at 15 UT are presented here for the first time, with independently-obtained PG measurements used to select valid data. The 15 UT Jc (1978–1984) spans 0.5–9.5 pA/m2, with median 2.5 pA/m2; the columnar resistance at Lerwick is estimated as 70 PΩm2. Smoke measurements confirm the low pollution properties of the site. Analysis of the monthly variation of Lerwick Jc data shows that winter (DJF) Jc is significantly greater than the summer (JJA) Jc by 20%. The Lerwick atmospheric electricity seasonality differs from the global lightning seasonality, but Jc has a similar seasonal phasing to that observed in Nimbostratus clouds globally, suggesting a role for non-thunderstorm rain clouds in the seasonality of the global circuit.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:1327
Publisher:Elsevier

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