The global atmospheric electric circuit, solar activity and climate change

Année de publication



Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 2000 62 1563 1576 17–18


Abstract: The study of the global atmospheric electric circuit has advanced dramatically in the past 50 years. Large advances have been made in the areas of lightning and thunderstorm research, as related to the global circuit. We now have satellites looking down on the Earth continuously, supplying information on the temporal and spatial variability of lightning and thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are electric current generators, which drive electric currents up through the conducting atmosphere. They maintain the ionosphere at a potential of ∼+250 kV with respect to the Earth's surface. The global electric circuit is completed by currents ∼2pA/m2 flowing through the fair weather atmosphere, remote from thunderstorms, and by transient currents due to negative cloud-to-ground lightning discharges. The time constant of the circuit, ∼>2min, demonstrates that thunderstorms must occur continually to maintain the fair weather electric field. New discoveries have been made in the field of sprites, elves and blue jets, which may have a direct impact on the global circuit. Our knowledge of the global electric circuit modulated by solar effects has improved. Changes to the global circuit are associated with changes of conductivity linked with the time-varying presence of energetic charged particles, and the solar wind may influence the global electric circuit by inferred effects on cloud microphysics, temperature, and dynamics in the troposphere. We now have a better understanding of how the conductivity of the atmosphere is influenced by aerosols, and how this impacts our measurements of the fair-weather global circuit. The global atmospheric electric circuit is also beginning to be recognised by some climate researchers as a useful tool with which to study and monitor the Earth's changing climate.

Type de publication
  • journal
Type de document
  • research-article
Classification - Inist-CNRS
  • 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
  • 2 - sciences exactes et technologie
  • 3 - terre, ocean, espace
  • 4 - geophysique externe
Classification - Scopus
  • 1 - Physical Sciences
  • 2 - Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • 3 - Space and Planetary Science
  • 3 - Atmospheric Science
  • 3 - Geophysics
Classification - Science Metrix
  • 1 - natural sciences
  • 2 - earth & environmental sciences
  • 3 - meteorology & atmospheric sciences
Classification - Clarivate Analytics (Subject Category)
  • 1 - science
  • 2 - meteorology & atmospheric sciences
  • 2 - geochemistry & geophysics
Termes extraits

thunderstorm; global circuit; geophysical; ect; sprites; atmospheric electricity; rycroft; geophysical research; ionospheric; global; uence; global lightning activity; solar wind; geomagnetic; markson; atmospheric conductivity; troposphere; magnetosphere; erence; electrical environment; thundercloud; geophysical research letters; elves; current density; eld; erent; geophysics; modelling; electric circuit; bering; climate change; thunderstorm generator; lightning activity; ionosphere; schumann; fair weather; schumann resonances; polar regions; global thunderstorm activity; lightning discharges; solar activity; upper atmosphere; solar cycle; atmospheric; carnegie curve; lower atmosphere; electrical processes; atmospheric ions; blue jets; upper tropospheric water vapour; stratosphere; same time; equipotential surface; recent advances; electrical relaxation time; middle atmosphere; negative charge; active thunderstorms; quarterly journal; better understanding; boundary layer; diurnal variations; equivalent circuit; volcanic eruptions; temporal distribution; cloud microphysics; major role; fair weather atmosphere; diurnal cycle; scale height; global surface temperatures; electric currents; national academy press; conductivity; lightning; variability; aerosol; geomagnetic activity; power lines; various roles; space environment; ground level; negative lightning discharges; schumann resonance frequencies; further research; atmospheric dynamics; relaxation time; thunderstorm activity; time variations; climate researchers; useful tool; concentric shell; sulphate aerosols; radiation budget; temporal variations; time scales; elsevier science; local afternoon; many factors; high latitudes; planetary boundary layer; classical picture; atmospheric aerosols; atmospheric electricity parameters; spatial variability; convection currents; cosmic radiation; thunderstorm research; other hand; current density measurements; erent locations; diurnal variation; satellite observations; universal time; updraft intensities; ionising radiation; solar modulation; global scale; good agreement; spatial variations; last decade; optical ashes; special issue; screening layer; future research; radio waves; tropical surface temperatures; cosmic rays; global temperatures; forbush decrease; atmospheric electricity research; electrical parameters; global warming; meteorological processes; local events; atmospheric sciences; direct impact; radio science; global thermometer; technological systems; global lightning; electrical properties; steinkop darmstadt; point discharge currents; atmospheric science; lower ionosphere; convection; circuit

Entité nommée
Entité nommée - Emplacement géographique
  • United States
  • Chernobyl
  • Greenland
  • America
  • Sweden
Entité nommée - Organisme
  • Department Received
  • Research on SR
  • France of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Villavagen
  • European Science Foundation
  • Board of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
  • Elsevier Science Ltd.
  • US National Research Council
  • Recommended Atmospheric Electricity Research Topics
  • Tel Aviv University
  • Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences
Entité nommée - Personne
M.J. Rycroft; Rhode Island; S. Israelssonb; Diagram
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