Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 167, Issue 2, pp 327–348 | Cite as

Evaluation of the Atmospheric Boundary-Layer Electrical Variability

  • Sergey V. Anisimov
  • Sergey V. Galichenko
  • Konstantin V. Aphinogenov
  • Aleksandr A. Prokhorchuk
Research Article


Due to the chaotic motion of charged particles carried by turbulent eddies, electrical quantities in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) have short-term variability superimposed on long-term variability caused by sources from regional to global scales. In this study the influence of radon exhalation rate, aerosol distribution and turbulent transport efficiency on the variability of fair-weather atmospheric electricity is investigated via Lagrangian stochastic modelling. For the mid-latitude lower atmosphere undisturbed by precipitation, electrified clouds, or thunderstorms, the model is capable of reproducing the diurnal variation in atmospheric electrical parameters detected by ground-based measurements. Based on the analysis of field observations and numerical simulation it is found that the development of the convective boundary layer, accompanied by an increase in turbulent kinetic energy, forms the vertical distribution of radon and its decaying short-lived daughters to be approximately coincident with the barometric law for several eddy turnover times. In the daytime ABL the vertical distribution of atmospheric electrical conductivity tends to be uniform except within the surface layer, due to convective mixing of radon and its radioactive decay products. At the same time, a decrease in the conductivity near the ground is usually observed. This effect leads to an enhanced ground-level atmospheric electric field compared to that normally observed in the nocturnal stably-stratified boundary layer. The simulation showed that the variability of atmospheric electric field in the ABL associated with internal origins is significant in comparison to the variability related to changes in global parameters. It is suggested that vertical profiles of electrical quantities can serve as informative parameters on ABL turbulent dynamics and can even more broadly characterize the state of the environment.


Atmospheric boundary layer Fair-weather electricity Field observations Lagrangian stochastic model Radon 



The study was supported in part by the Russian Science Foundation under Project No. 16-17-10209.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Borok Geophysical Observatory of Schmidt Institute of Physics of the Earth RASYaroslavlRussian Federation

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