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Observed atmospheric electricity effect on clouds

Harrison, R. G. ORCID: and Ambaum, M. H. P. ORCID: (2009) Observed atmospheric electricity effect on clouds. Environmental Research Letters, 4 (1). 014003. ISSN 1748-9326

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/4/1/014003


The atmosphere's fair weather electric field is a permanent feature, arising from the combination of distant thunderstorms, Earth's conducting surface, a charged ionosphere and cosmic ray ionization. Despite its ubiquity, no fair weather electricity effect on clouds has been hitherto demonstrated. Here we report surface measurements of radiation emitted and scattered by extensive thin continental cloud, which, after ~2 min delay, shows changes closely following the fair weather electric field. For typical fluctuations in the fair weather electric field, changes of about 10% are subsequently induced in the diffuse short-wave radiation. These observations are consistent with enhanced production of large cloud droplets from charging at layer cloud edges.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:1936
Uncontrolled Keywords:aerosol; droplet; charge; cosmic rays
Publisher:Institute of Physics

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