MessageToEagle.com - Our planet Earth has a heartbeat which can be seen from space and behaves like an enormous
The atmosphere is actually a weak conductor and if there were no sources of charge, its existing electric charge
would diffuse away in about 10 minutes.
There is a 'cavity 'defined by the surface of the Earth and the inner edge of the ionosphere 55 kilometers up, in which electromagnetic waves
propagate. At any moment, the total charge residing in this cavity is 500,000 Coulombs.
Waves created by lightning flashes – here shown in blue, green, and red – circle around Earth, creating something called Schumann
resonance. These waves can be used to study the nature of the atmosphere they travel through. Credit: NASA/Simoes
At any given moment about 2,000 thunderstorms roll over Earth, producing some 50 flashes of lightning every second.
Each lightning burst creates electromagnetic waves that begin to circle around Earth captured between Earth's
surface and a boundary about 60 miles up.
Some of the waves – if they have just the right wavelength – combine,
increasing in strength, to create a repeating atmospheric heartbeat
This fascinating phenomenon is called Schumann resonance.
According to recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Reading, the height of clouds changes by up to
200m during a day under the influence of a global 'electrical heartbeat' in the atmosphere.
The findings, made by analysing 10 years' data
of cloud heights from the north and south poles, open up a whole new
perspective on our understanding of how clouds form and influence our weather and climate.
Scientists have been aware of the daily global ebb and flow of electric current through the atmosphere for 100 years,
when it was shown to vary consistently throughout the day wherever on the planet it was measured.
The electric current is caused by electrified storms across the world. Its daily peak occurs at 7pm GMT each day when the major
sources of thunderstorms are the American and African landmasses.
The current is usually weakest at 3am GMT, night-time across
most of the world's continents, when there are fewest thunderstorms occurring globally.
Clouds follow earth's 'electrical heartbeat'
Previously no connection had been made between this current and the formation of clouds. But, by analysing cloud base
measurements made during polar darkness when there are few other influences on cloud formation, University of Reading
meteorologists Professor Giles Harrison and Dr Maarten Ambaum found evidence for the first time that cloud heights are closely
linked to the Carnegie curve.
Thunderstorms discharge electricity as both cloud flashes and ground flashes, as shown in this
photograph. Each type of lightning may have different effects on air quality and atmospheric
electricity. (Courtesy K. Arnett)
"What we found was remarkable. The variations from both north and south poles are almost identical,
suggesting a strong link with the Carnegie curve, when other factors are taken out of the equation. This may arise from charging
of small droplets in the cloud's base, encouraging them to stick together," Professor Harrison said.
"This implies that factors inside or outside the climate system which change the global electric current, such as ocean
temperatures or cosmic rays, may influence the properties of layer clouds. However our results say nothing about any long-term
effects, as they were found for rapidly-occurring changes from hour to hour."
Layer clouds are particularly relevant to global temperatures. At night they act like a warm blanket, preventing heat
from being lost from the earth into space, and during the day help cool the surface by reflecting away the sun's energy.
"The realisation the electrical heartbeat of the planet plays a role in the formation of layer clouds indicates that
existing models for clouds and climate are still missing potentially important components," said Dr Ambaum.
"Understanding these missing elements is crucial to improve the accuracy of our weather forecasts and predicting changes
to our climate. The climate system keeps on surprising us with its immense complexity and richness."
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