Wednesday, 24 April 2013

electrical heartbeat

The rhythm of the electrical heartbeat is linked to Earth's rotation and the way thunderstorms build. New research shows clouds dance to this rhythm.

Giles Harrison and Maarten Ambaum from the University of Reading studied clouds in Finland and Antarctica during periods of solar darkness (to minimise other factors that influence clouds such as the Sun's heat). Writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, they show that layer cloud (the blanket of low level cloud that covers about 40% of the planet) rises an average of 4m for every 1% increase in electric current, almost shifting up to 200m in the course of an electrical "heartbeat".

So what does the electrical current do to a cloud? Weather balloon measurements show it affects the charge and "stickiness" of droplets at the base of a cloud. It influences the cloud's properties, such as how much rainfall it produces and how much heat reflects into Space. Such information will improve weather forecasts. Interesting to ponder what else jives to this electric heartbeat.

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