The electrical environment of thunderstorm models and measurements
Geis, Paul B.
Few, Arthur A., Jr.
Doctor of Philosophy
A model describing a thunderstorm's interaction with the global electric circuit is presented. The model includes a thunderstorm, the surrounding atmospheric and ionospheric region, and the magnetically conjugate atmospheric and ionospheric region. The model is time-dependent, and includes lightning and thundercloud evolution. A method of using experimental data to more accurately simulate observed thunderstorms has been developed. Of the upward current generated by a thunderstorm, about 50% flows through the Earth's magnetosphere to the conjugate hemisphere. This percentage is fairly constant over the storm's active life, and varies little with storm size or structure. Infrequent lightning activity (less than one flash/minute) within a thunderstorm does not appear to greatly affect the thunderstorm's efficiency in transferring separated charge to the global circuit. Lightning does limit the magnitude of the electric fields and resulting currents within and below the storm.