Space Science Reviews

, Volume 94, Issue 1–2, pp 231–258

Influence of Solar Wind on the Global Electric Circuit, and Inferred Effects on Cloud Microphysics, Temperature, and Dynamics in the Troposphere

  • Brian A. Tinsley
Article

Abstract

There are at least three independent ways in which the solar wind modulates the flow of current density (Jz) in the global electric circuit. These are (A) changes in the galactic cosmic ray energy spectrum, (B) changes in the precipitation of relativistic electrons from the magnetosphere, and (C) changes in the ionospheric potential distribution in the polar caps due to magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. The current density Jz flows between the ionosphere and the surface, and as it passes through conductivity gradients it generates space charge concentrations dependent on Jz and the conductivity gradient. The gradients are large at the surfaces of clouds and space charge concentrations of order 1000 to 10,000 elementary charges per cm3 can be generated at cloud tops. The charge transfers to droplets, many of which are evaporating at the cloud-clear air interface. The charge remains on the residual evaporation nuclei with a lifetime against leakage of order 1000 sec, and for a longer period the nuclei also retain coatings of sulfate and organic compounds adsorbed by the droplet while in the cloud.

The charged evaporation nuclei become well mixed with more droplets in many types of clouds with penetrative mixing. The processes of entrainment and evaporation are also efficient for these clouds. The collection of such nuclei by nearby droplets is greatly increased by the electrical attraction between the charge on the particle and the image charge that it creates on the droplet. This process is called electroscavenging. Because the charge on the evaporation nuclei is derived from the original space charge, it depends on Jz, giving a rate of electroscavenging responsive to the solar wind inputs.

There may be a number of ways in which the electroscavenging has consequences for weather and climate. One possibility is enhanced production of ice. The charged evaporation nuclei have been found to be good ice forming nuclei because of their coatings, and so in supercooled clouds droplet freezing can occur by contact ice nucleation, as the evaporation nuclei are electroscavenged. Although quantitative models for the all the cloud microphysical processes that may be involved have not yet been produced, we show that for many clouds, especially those with broad droplet size distributions, relatively high droplet concentrations, and cloud top temperatures just below freezing, this process is likely to dominate over other primary ice nucleation processes. In these cases there are likely to be effects on cloud albedo and rates of sedimentation of ice, and these will depend on Jz.

For an increase in ice production in thin clouds such as altocumulus or stratocumulus the main effect is a decrease in albedo to incoming solar radiation, and in opacity to outgoing longwave radiation. At low latitudes the surface and troposphere heat, and at high latitudes in winter they cool. The change in meridional temperature gradient affects the rate of cyclogenesis, and the amplitude of planetary waves. For storm clouds, as in winter cyclones, the effect of increased ice formation is mainly to increase the rate of glaciation of lower level clouds by the seeder-feeder process. The increase in precipitation efficiency increases the rate of transfer of latent heat between the air mass and the surface. In most cyclones this is likely to result in intensification, producing changes in the vorticity area index as observed. Cyclone intensification also increases the amplitude of planetary waves, and shifts storm tracks, as observed.

In this paper we first describe the production of space charge and the way in which it may influence the rate of ice nucleation. Then we review theory and observations of the solar wind modulation of Jz, and the correlated changes in atmospheric temperature and dynamics in the troposphere. The correlations are present for each input, (A, B, and C), and the detailed patterns of responses provide support for the inferred electrical effects on the physics of clouds, affecting precipitation, temperature and dynamics.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abbas, M. A., and Latham, J.: 1969, ‘The electrofreezing of supercooled water droplets’, J. Meteorol. Soc. Japan 47, 650–74.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, R.V., and Trent, E. M.: 1966, ‘Evaluation of the use of atmospheric-electricity recordings in fog forecasting’, Naval Research Lab. Report No. 6424, 20 pages.Google Scholar
  3. Baker, D.N., McPherron, R. L., Cayton, T. E., and Klebesdal, R.W.: 1990, ‘Linear prediction filter analysis of relativistic electron properties at 6.6 RE’, J. Geophys. Res. 95, 15133–15140.Google Scholar
  4. Bazilevskaya, G.A.: 2000, ‘Observations of Variability in Cosmic Rays’, Space Sci. Rev., this volume.Google Scholar
  5. Beard, K.V.: 1992, ‘Ice initiation in warm-base convective clouds: An assessment of microphysical mechanisms’, Atmosph. Res. 28, 125–152.Google Scholar
  6. Beard, K.V., and Ochs, H. T.: 1986, ‘Charging mechanisms in clouds and thunderstorms’, The Earth's Electrical Environment, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 114–130.Google Scholar
  7. Bering, E. A., III, Few, A. A., and Benbrook, J. R.: 1998, ‘The global electric circuit’, Physics Today 51, 24–30.Google Scholar
  8. Borszák, I.B., and Cummings, P.: 1997, ‘Electrofreezing of water in molecular dynamics simulation accelerated by oscillatory shear’, Phys. Rev. 56, R6279–R6282.Google Scholar
  9. Braham, R.B.: 1986, ‘Coalescence-freezing precipitation mechanism’, 10 th Conf. Planned and Inadverdent Weather Modification, Am. Meteorol. Soc., Boston, 142–145.Google Scholar
  10. Castleman, A.W., Jr., Munkelwitz, H. R., Manowitz, B.: 1974, ‘Isotopic studies of the sulfur component of the stratospheric aerosol layer’, Tellus 26, 222–234.Google Scholar
  11. Cooper, W.A.: 1980, ‘A method of detecting contact ice nuclei using filter samples’, 8 th Intern. Conf. Cloud Phys., Clermont-Ferand, France, 15-19 July, 1980, 665–668.Google Scholar
  12. Dickinson, R. E.: 1975, ‘Solar variability and the lower atmosphere’, Bull. Am. Meterol. Soc. 56, 1240–1248.Google Scholar
  13. Dolezalek, H.: 1963, ‘The atmospheric fog effect’, Rev. Geophys. 1, 231–282.Google Scholar
  14. Fischer, H. J., and Mühleisen, R.: 1980, ‘The ionospheric potential and the solar magnetic sector boundary crossings’, Rep. Astron. Inst., Univ. Tübingen, Ravensburg, Germany.Google Scholar
  15. Fram, R.A., Winningham, J.D., Sharber, J.R., Link, R., Crowley, G., Gaines, E. E., Chenette, D. L., Anderson, B. J., and Potemera, T.A.: 1997, ‘The diffuse aurora: A significant source of ionization in the middle atmosphere’ J. Geophys. Res. 102, 28,203–28,214.Google Scholar
  16. Frank-Kamenetsky, A.V., Burns, G. B., Troshichev, O. A., Papitashvili, V. O., Bering, E. A., and French, W. J.R.: 1999, ‘The geoelectric field at Vostok, Antarctica: it's relation to the interplanetary magnetic field and the cross polar cap potential difference’, J. Atmos. Solar Terr. Phys. 61, 1347–1356.Google Scholar
  17. Fukuta, N.: 1975a, ‘A study of a mechanism for contact ice nucleation’ J. Atmos. Sci. 32, 1597–1603.Google Scholar
  18. Fukuta, N.: 1975b, ‘Comments on ‘A possible mechanism for contact ice nucleation’, J. Atmos. Sci. 32, 2371–2373.Google Scholar
  19. Garrett, W.D.: 1978, ‘The impact of organic material on cloud and fog processes’, Pageoph. 116, 316–334.Google Scholar
  20. Gavish, M., Wang, J.-L., Eisenstein, M., Lahav, M., Lieserowitz, L.: 1992, ‘The role of crystal polarity in alpha-amino acid crystals for induced nucleation of ice’, Science 256, 815–818.Google Scholar
  21. Gringel, W., Rosen, J.M., and Hoffman, D. J.: 1986, ‘Electrical structure from 0 to 30 kilometers’, The Earth's Electrical Environment, NAS Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 166–182.Google Scholar
  22. Hays, P.B., and Roble, R.G.: 1979, ‘A quasi-static model of global atmospheric electricity, I. The lower atmosphere’, J. Geophys. Res. 84, 3291–3305.Google Scholar
  23. Herman, J. R., and Goldberg, R. A.: 1978, ‘Sun, Weather, and Climate’, NASA, SP-426, Washington, D. C.Google Scholar
  24. Hobbs, P.V., and Rangno, A. L.: 1985, ‘Ice particle concentrations in clouds’, J. Atmos. Sci. 42, 2523–2549.Google Scholar
  25. Hoppel, W. A., Anderson, R.V., and Willet, J. C.: 1986, ‘Atmospheric electricity in the planetary boundary layer’, The Earth's Electrical Environment, NAS Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 195–205.Google Scholar
  26. Hoyt, D.V., and Schatten, K.H.: 1997, ‘The Role of the Sun in Climate Change’, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  27. Israël, H.: 1973, Atmospheric Electricity, vol. II, translated from German, Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem.Google Scholar
  28. Kirkland, M.W.: 1996, ‘Further Evidence for Solar Wind Forcing of Tropospheric Dynamics via the Global Electric Circuit’, Ph. D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Dallas.Google Scholar
  29. Kirkland, M.W., Tinsley, B.A., and Hoeksema, J. T.: 1996, ‘Are stratospheric aerosols the missing link between tropospheric vorticity and earth transits of the heliospheric current sheet?’ J. Geophys. Res. 101, 29,689–29,699.Google Scholar
  30. Larsen, M. F., and Kelley, M. C.: 1977, ‘A study of an observed and forecasted meteorological index and its relation to the interplanetary magnetic field’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 4, 337–340.Google Scholar
  31. Laštovicka, J., 1987, ‘Influence of the IMF sector boundaries on cosmic rays and tropospheric vorticity’, Stud. Geophys. Geod. 31, 213–218.Google Scholar
  32. Li, X., Baker, D.N., Temerin, M., Larson, D., Lin, R. P., Reeves, G.D., Looper, M., Kanekal, S.G., and Mewaldt, R.A.: 1997, ‘Are energetic electrons in the solar wind the source of the outer radiation belt?’ Geophys. Res. Lett. 24, 923–926.Google Scholar
  33. MacGorman, D.R., and Rust, W.D.: 1998, The Electrical Nature of Storms, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  34. Mallet, I., Cammas, J.-P, Mascart, P., and Bechtold, P.: 1999, ‘Effects of cloud diabatic heating on the early development of the FASTEX IOP17 cyclone’, Q. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 125, 3439–3467.Google Scholar
  35. Mansurov, S.M., Mansurova, L.G., Mansurov, G. S., Mikhenvich, V.V., and Visotsky, A.M.: 1974, ‘North-south asymmetry of geomagnetic and tropospheric events’, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 36, 1957–1962.Google Scholar
  36. Märcz, F.: 1997, ‘Short term changes in atmospheric electricity associated with Forbush decreases’, J. Atmos. Solar-Terr. Phys. 59, 975–982.Google Scholar
  37. Marsh, N. and Svensmark, H.: 2000, Space Sci. Rev., this volume.Google Scholar
  38. Misumi, Y.: 1983, ‘The tropospheric response to the passage of solar sector boundaries’, J. Meteorol. Soc. Japan 61, 686–694.Google Scholar
  39. NAS: 1982, ‘Solar Variability, Weather and Climate’, Geophys. Res. Board, Nat. Acad. Press, Washington, D. C.Google Scholar
  40. NAS: 1986, The Earth's Electrical Environment, Geophys. Res. Board, Nat. Acad. Press, Washington, D. C.Google Scholar
  41. NAS: 1994, ‘Solar Influences on Global Change’, Geophys. Res. Board, Nat. Acad. Press, Washington, D. C.Google Scholar
  42. Page, D. E.: 1989, ‘The interplanetary magnetic field and sea level polar pressure’, in S. K. Avery and B. A. Tinsley (eds.) Workshop on Mechanisms for Tropospheric Effects of Solar Variabilty and the Quasi-Bienniel Oscillation, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, pp. 227–234.Google Scholar
  43. Park, C.G.: 1976, ‘Solar magnetic sector effects on the vertical atmospheric electric field at Vostok, Antarctica’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 3, 475–478.Google Scholar
  44. Pauley, P.M., and Smith, P. J.: 1988, ‘Direct and indirect effects of latent heat release on a synoptic wave system’, Mon. Weather Rev. 116, 1209–1235.Google Scholar
  45. Pruppacher, H.R., and Klett, J.D.: 1997, ‘Microphysics of Clouds and Precipitation’, 2nd rev. ed., Kluwer, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  46. Rangno, A. L., and Hobbs, P.V.: 1991, ‘Ice particle concentrations and precipitation development in small polar maritime cumuliform clouds’, Q. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 117, 207–241.Google Scholar
  47. Reiter, R.: 1992, Phenomena in Atmospheric and Environmental Electricity, Elseiver, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  48. Richmond, A.D.: 1986, ‘Upper-atmosphere electric field sources’, The Earth's Electrical Environment, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 195–205.Google Scholar
  49. Roberts, W.O., and Olson, R.H.: 1973, ‘Geomagnetic storms and wintertime 300 mb trough development in the North Pacific–North America area’, J. Atmos. Sci. 30, 135–140.Google Scholar
  50. Robertson, J.A.: 1969, ‘Interactions Between a Highly Charged Aerosol Droplet and the Surrounding Gas’, Ph. D. Thesis, University of Illinois.Google Scholar
  51. Roble, R.G., and Hays, P.B.: 1979, ‘A quasi-static model of global atmospheric electricity, II. Electrical coupling between the upper and the lower atmosphere’, J. Geophys. Res. 84, 7247–7256.Google Scholar
  52. Roble, R.G., and Tzur, I.: 1986, ‘The global atmospheric-electrical circuit’, The Earth's Electrical Environment, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 206–231.Google Scholar
  53. Rosinski, J.: 1995, ‘Cloud condensation nuclei as a real source of ice forming nuclei in continental and marine air masses’, Atmosp. Res. 38, 351–359.Google Scholar
  54. Rosinski, J., and Morgan, G.: 1991, ‘Cloud condensation nuclei as a source of ice-forming nuclei in clouds’, J. Aerosol. Sci. 22, 123–133.Google Scholar
  55. Rust, W.D., and Moore, C. B.: 1974, ‘Electrical conditions near the bases of thunderclouds over New Mexico’, Q. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 100, 450–468.Google Scholar
  56. Rutledge, S.A., and Hobbs, P.V.: 1983, ‘The mesoscale and microscale structure and organization of clouds and precipitation in midlatitude cyclones, VIII: A model for the feeder-seeder process in warm frontal rainbands’, J. Atmos. Sci. 40, 1185–1206.Google Scholar
  57. Sagalyn, R. C., and Faucher, G. A: 1954, ‘Aircraft investigation of the large ion content and conductivity of the atmosphere and their relation to meteorological factors’, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 5, 253–272.Google Scholar
  58. Sagalyn, R.C., and Burke, H.K.: 1985, ‘Atmospheric Electricity’, in A. S. Jursa (ed.), Handbook of Geophysics and the Space Environment, Air Force Geophysics Lab., Bedford, MA.Google Scholar
  59. Sapkota, B.K., and Varshneya, N.C.: 1990, ‘On the global atmospheric electrical circuit’, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 52, 1–20.Google Scholar
  60. Shapiro, R.: 1979, ‘An examination of a certain proposed sun-weather correlation’, J. Atmos. Sci. 36, 1105–1116.Google Scholar
  61. Stuiver, M., Grootes, P.M., and Braziunas, T. F.: 1995, ‘The GISP2 δ18O climate record of the past 16,500 years and the role of the sun, ocean, and volcanoes’, Quarternary Res. 44, 341–354.Google Scholar
  62. Švestka, Z., Fritzova-Svestkovă, L., Nolte, J. T., Dodson-Prince, H.W., and Hedeman, E.R.: 1976, ‘Low energy particle events associated with sector boundaries’, Sol. Phys. 50, 491–500.Google Scholar
  63. Svensmark, H., and Friis-Christensen, E.: 1997, ‘Variation of cosmic ray flux and global cloud coverage-a missing link in solar climate relations’, J. Atmos. Solar Terr. Phys. 59, 1225–1232.Google Scholar
  64. Tinsley, B.A.: 1994, ‘Solar wind mechanism suggested for weather and climate change’, Eos, Trans. Am. Geophys. Un. 75, 369–374.Google Scholar
  65. Tinsley, B.A.: 1996, ‘Correlations of atmospheric dynamics with solar wind induced air-earth current density into cloud tops’, J. Geophys. Res. 101, 29,701–29,714.Google Scholar
  66. Tinsley, B.A.: 2000, ‘Electroscavenging and contact nucleation in clouds with broad droplet size distributions’, Proceedings of the 13 th Int. Conf. on Clouds and Precipitation, ICCP, Reno, Nevada, 14–18 August, 2000, in press.Google Scholar
  67. Tinsley, B.A., and Deen, G.W.: 1991, ‘Apparent tropospheric response to MeV-GeV particle flux variations: A connection via electrofreezing of supercooled water in high level clouds?’ J. eophys. Res. 96, 22283–22296.Google Scholar
  68. Tinsley, B.A., and Heelis, R.A.: 1993, ‘Correlation of atmospheric dynamics with solar activity: Evidence for a connection via the solar wind, atmospheric electricity, and cloud microphysics’, J. Geophys. Res. 98, 10375–10384.Google Scholar
  69. Tinsley, B.A., Hoeksema, J. T., and Baker, D.N.: 1994, ‘Stratospheric volcanic aerosols and changes in air-earth current density at solar wind magnetic sector boundaries as conditions for the Wilcox tropospheric vorticity effect’, J. Geophys. Res. 99, 16,805–16,813.Google Scholar
  70. Tinsley, B.A., Liu, W., Rohrbaugh, R. P., and Kirkland, M.: 1998, ‘South pole electric field responses to overhead ionospheric convection’, J. Geophys. Res. 103, 26,137–26146.Google Scholar
  71. Tinsley, B.A., Rohrbaugh, R. P., Hei, M., and Beard, K.V.: 2000, ‘Effects of image charges on the scavenging of aerosol particles by cloud droplets, and on droplet charging and possible ice nucleation processes’, J. Atmos. Sci. 57, 2118–2134.Google Scholar
  72. Tzur, I., Roble, R.G., Zhuang, H.C., and Reid, G.C.: 1983, ‘The response of the earth's global electric circuit to a solar proton event’, in B. M. McCormac (ed.), Weather and Climate Responses to Solar Variations, Colo. Assoc. Univ. Press, Boulder, pp. 427–435.Google Scholar
  73. van Delden, A.: 1989, ‘On the deepening and filling of balanced cyclones by diabatic heating’, Meteor. Atmos. Phys. 41, 127.Google Scholar
  74. Wilcox, J. M.: 1979, ‘Tropospheric circulation and interplanetary magnetic sector boundaries followed by MeV proton streams’, Nature 278, 840–841.Google Scholar
  75. Wilcox, J. M., Scherrer, P.H., Svalgaard, L., Roberts, W.O., and Olson, R.H.: 1973, ‘Solar magnetic structure: Influence on stratospheric circulation’, Science 180, 185–186.Google Scholar
  76. Williams, R.G.: 1979, ‘Reply (to Wilcox and Scherrer)’, Nature 280, 846.Google Scholar
  77. Williams, R.G., and Gerety, E. J.: 1978, ‘Does the troposphere respond to day-to-day changes in solar magnetic field?’, Nature 275, 200–201.Google Scholar
  78. Zimmerman, J. E., Smith, P. J., and D.R. Smith, 1989, ‘The role of latent heat release in the evolution of a weak extratropical cyclone’, Mon. Wea. Rev. 117, 1039–1057.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian A. Tinsley
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Texas at DallasUSA

Personalised recommendations