Variability in surface atmospheric electric field measurements
Bennett, A. J. and Harrison, R. G. (2008) Variability in surface atmospheric electric field measurements. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 142 (1). 012046. ISSN 1742-6588
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/142/1/012046
An electrical current of the order one picoamp per metre squared flows vertically in the Earth's atmosphere, between the ionosphere at approximately 50km altitude and the surface. This current is generated by global thunderstorm activity and is modulated by galactic cosmic rays and atmospheric aerosol. In fair weather conditions, this current cause a vertical atmospheric electric field, commonly measured as a potential gradient. For circumstances other than fair weather conditions, the potential gradient varies, from small steady enhancements in fog to large fluctuations in thunderstorms. The atmospheric potential gradient is continuously monitored at the Reading University Atmospheric Observatory. An account of the variability of the potential gradient on a variety of time scales will be presented.