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Electrical signature in polar night cloud base variations

Harrison, R. G. ORCID: and Ambaum, M. H.P. ORCID: (2013) Electrical signature in polar night cloud base variations. Environmental Research Letters, 8 (1). 015027. ISSN 1748-9326

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/015027


Layer clouds are globally extensive. Their lower edges are charged negatively by the fair weather atmospheric electricity current flowing vertically through them. Using polar winter surface meteorological data from Sodankyla ̈ (Finland) and Halley (Antarctica), we find that when meteorological diurnal variations are weak, an appreciable diurnal cycle, on average, persists in the cloud base heights, detected using a laser ceilometer. The diurnal cloud base heights from both sites correlate more closely with the Carnegie curve of global atmospheric electricity than with local meteorological measurements. The cloud base sensitivities are indistinguishable between the northern and southern hemispheres, averaging a (4.0 ± 0.5) m rise for a 1% change in the fair weather electric current density. This suggests that the global fair weather current, which is affected by space weather, cosmic rays and the El Nin ̃o Southern Oscillation, is linked with layer cloud properties.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:31386
Publisher:IOP Publishing


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