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In situ measurements of contributions to the global electrical circuit by a thunderstorm in southeastern Brazil

Atmospheric Research

By:
, , and
DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosres.2008.03.026

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Abstract

The global electrical circuit, which maintains a potential of about 280??kV between the earth and the ionosphere, is thought to be driven mainly by thunderstorms and lightning. However, very few in situ measurements of electrical current above thunderstorms have been successfully obtained. In this paper, we present dc to very low frequency electric fields and atmospheric conductivity measured in the stratosphere (30-35??km altitude) above an active thunderstorm in southeastern Brazil. From these measurements, we estimate the mean quasi-static conduction current during the storm period to be 2.5 ?? 1.25??A. Additionally, we examine the transient conduction currents following a large positive cloud-to-ground (+ CG) lightning flash and typical - CG flashes. We find that the majority of the total current is attributed to the quasi-static thundercloud charge, rather than lightning, which supports the classical Wilson model for the global electrical circuit.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
In situ measurements of contributions to the global electrical circuit by a thunderstorm in southeastern Brazil
Series title:
Atmospheric Research
DOI:
10.1016/j.atmosres.2008.03.026
Volume
91
Issue:
2-4
Year Published:
2009
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Atmospheric Research
First page:
153
Last page:
160
Number of Pages:
8