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Could earths magnetic field help cause/effec Tornadoes, and lighting?

  1. Nov 27, 2013 #1
    I was wondering if anyone knew of any research done on if there could be a connection between earths magnetic field and some of our planets less understood weather phenomenon like tornadoes and lightning. From my understanding the most excepted theory is that lighting is caused by charged water molecules bumping and moving from wind creating a static charge in the clouds and it either releases to ground or another differently charged cloud in the form of lighting. I stated it very breif and basic there, but i have also read that this may not truly be what causes lightning or at least it is somewhat debatable. ie lighting strikes that seem to originate from earth. Could there possibly be a connection with our planets magnetic field? Could the charge be riding the planets flux lines back to ground? or could the water vapor in the upper atmosphere be getting charged from our flux lines and that's why they want to ground and or possibly rarely originate from earth? Or possibly at least be a factor.

    For tornadoes i have heard many different theories on pressure/temp. and environmental factors that might possibly cause them but its all still a ?????? as far the research i have read. The fact is clouds/storms have a charge whether from solar, magnetic, or static or all three, they have a charge. could our magnetic flux lines or interactions with the suns magnetic field some how effect storms. maybe storms charged a certain way interact to start a spin? or could we somehow monitor a storms magnetic properties to detect a funnel cloud spin faster than the current doppler technology? similiar to NDT eddy current testing?

    I'm a contractor and who employs highly intelligent tradesmen, and our jobsite conversations range from quantum theory to world politics. This topic came up in conversation the other day and i thought see if anyone could help us out with some answers, or knew of any current research into this subject. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2013 #2


    Staff: Mentor

  4. Nov 27, 2013 #3
    thanks ill check those out
  5. Nov 28, 2013 #4
    Meteorological effects resulting from fluctuations in the solar wind are presently poorly represented in weather and climate models. - wattsup link

    Another thing to yell at weathermen when they get it wrong all the time!

    Thanks for the links, looks like some people are looking into it, though it seems they are looking for global warming applications with any connection. It just seems that with all that we know about our planet, things like tornadoes and lightning should better understood by now. It just seems like there's an angle we are not adding to the equation.
  6. Nov 28, 2013 #5
    this is was the link from the wattsup link to the actual article.

    if i read this right, It said that atmospheric and surface pressure changes in Antarctica were observed to be connected to changes in the IMF within 0-2days and these changes could also affect "Mid latitudes." Wow! is there anyway to see if there are changes in the IMF around Tornado Alley? maybe there is a link?

    In the most detailed study to date [5], variations in IMF By of ~8 nT were associated with changes in high-latitude station surface pressure of ~1–2 hPa. These correlations were statistically significant for Antarctica between 1995 and 2005, and in the Arctic between 1999 and 2002. The time lag between changes in IMF By and changes in the surface pressure was estimated to be approximately 0 ± 2 days. Here we extend the analysis, for zero time lag, using 12 UT NCEP/NCAR reanalysis surface pressure [9] data on a global grid (λ,phgr) where λ is latitude and phgr is longitude (section 2). A similar spatial analysis of the ionospheric potential for different states of IMF By (section 3) is used to investigate the theory that the response of surface pressure to fluctuations in IMF By occurs via the global atmospheric electric circuit. Our results indicate that a mechanism that is known to produce atmospheric responses to the IMF in the polar regions is also able to modulate weather patterns at mid-latitudes.
  7. Nov 29, 2013 #6
    i keep posting cause my mind id racing watch this video of a tornado forming, doesn't it look like there is a force pulling down on the storm, kinda like a magnetic force maybe? idk i should go to bed.

    Could lightning and tornados be similar and both are effects of magnetic flux lines looping back to earth through the storm? maybe the added charge from the storms interacts with the flux lines and there loop back to or from earth?. and the magnetic field/flux line causes changes in pressure to cause the spin?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  8. Nov 29, 2013 #7
    ok last post then im going to bed and and i hope im on to something and not just overtired. could storms get energy from moving around the IMF above the planet and have a charge from inductance from the earths spinning like a magnet, like copper coils wrapped around a spinning magnetic in a generator. and a magnetic flux loop emiting or returning through the storm causes a discharge or a pressure pull toward earth? Ok to bed. some one smarter than me please help me out.
  9. Nov 29, 2013 #8

    another video seems to work with theory
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  10. Nov 29, 2013 #9
    could a cloud or storm in a super charged excited state from updrafts and rotations from wind generate its own magnetic flux loops, and under the right condtions one of those loops gets focused and interacts withe earths own magnetic forces and creates a pull on the storm creating pressure. (like flying a charged kite) And the pressure rides that flux loop in a vortex or tornado until the flux loops are separated?
  11. Nov 29, 2013 #10


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    One should consider the time scales.

    A current of lightning would induce a transient magnetic (EM) field for the fractions of a second the current exists. Otherwise, the electric field is somewhat static, although clearly the accumulation of charge means the electric field is increasing, much like it does when a capacitor accumulates charge.

    The rotational vortex of a tornado is caused by winds or air currents, not magnetic fields.

    Also, there are numerous cumulonimbus (thunderclouds) that do not involve tornadoes, but do have impressive lightning activity.
  12. Nov 30, 2013 #11
    like the quotes! i know i kinda rambled on in this thread i was super tired and my mind was racing. I am familiar with the current model of how tornadoes are formed and that we can even replicate in museum exhibits with the interaction of warm air rising and cool air falling. There are just some questions that that arise in my head as to visual observations i've made in tornado videos i've seen. Take water spouts for example. there are vidoes of water spouts that show the vortex "sucking" water up into the storm, at the same time the water vapor, or clouds, are being pulled down into the vortex, and they meet in the middle. I understand the spinning vortex could draw in the clouds but wouldn't they get sucked up back into the cloud in stead of being drawn down to earth? ill post a great example of this from youtube.

    As for my ideas ive been slowly refining my jumbled thoughts and hopefully will more clearly express this theory. (sorry if wording is wrong) .
    The earth creates a magnetic field from being magnetically polarized and spinning. This field interacts with and protects us from solar wind from the sun. This is similar to one way we generate electricity. by wrapping copper wires around a spinning magnet and using the inductance of the em field generated from spinning magnet to generate an "electron push" or current through the wire. As the earth spins, the atmosphere does not exactly or always spin the same rate or even direction. (theory1) This drag (difference in spin )could possibly charge the atmosphere.
    Magnetic forces are closed loops. meaning the originate from and return to the magnet. We can think of earth as a spherical magnet with north and south poles being the strongest and tapering off as you approach the equator. The strongest magnetic flux loops would originate from the poles and then the highest elevations.
    Storm systems have massive amounts of potential energy. most of this energy is created from static charge of excited water molecules in clouds blowing around from wind, charged from sun, (and possibly from ionosphere?). We see this static energy discharge in the form of lightning from cloud to ground, cloud to cloud, and cloud to space (sprites). Lightning has massive amounts of electricity, more then we are safely able to harness, and storms have many lightning strikes. So we are talking !!HUGE!!! amounts of charge and power. Lightning discharges are an attempt to bring the molecules back to a less excited state. (theory2) What if tornados are formed in different attempt to release that charge as well. What if the massive charges in the storm were to begin to polarize or even concentrate within the cloud due to passing through a magnetic flux loop or even a charged magma flow deep within the earth or even a concentrated iron deposit. As the storm passes over this spot the highly charged storm pole or charged spot in the storm starts to pull on the earth, and vise versa. what if these super energized situtaions with dealing massive amounts of pontential energy could effect the pressure of the air in between creating a vortex. As the storm moves it drags this connection along with it or tornado.
    (theory3) Or what if the charge in a storm could become so great it could actually pull and change a flux loop orientation from the IMF down through it and create a new point for it to return to earth. I was looking at tornado occurrence maps and topography maps, and saw a connection. Areas where tornadoes are most likely seem to be concentrated between mountain ranges or near a mountain range on the tip of a continent. what if these higher elevations are points of emanating and returning flux loops from the planet and the super charged storms are able to pull in their flux loops.

    There i hope that better describes my line of thinking. i would appreciate any comments or links to research, particularly anything on magnetic force/pressure, electrical charge/pressure relationship thanks, i love this website!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  13. Nov 30, 2013 #12


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    I have to warn you that you are getting into a line of discussion that is against forum rules


    that being one of personal theories

    unless you can provide links to peer reviewed publications/papers on your "theories"
    there's a high probablity that this thread will be closed

  14. Nov 30, 2013 #13
    Sorry maybe theory was the wring choice of words, im am not a scientist just had thoughts I thought id try and bounce off a community of more educated people than myself. I apolgize.
  15. Dec 1, 2013 #14


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    Unfortunately the accepted theories in this field require multiple scientific disciplines and so are somewhat handicapped. As such while you are on the right track, you are so to say, walking sideways while facing the wrong way. As research in this field has stalled now for at least 20 years there are no peer reviewed articles, which unfortunately precludes discussion of the subject on this forum. Forum members are unable to help you, even if they agree with some aspects of your interpretation.

    My advice to you is to keep quiet about your theories while studying the Physics, Chemistry and Earth sciences. As you build a solid educational foundation you will be able to adjust your theories and observations while identifying the accepted peer reviewed science upon which your refined theories can be constructed.
  16. Dec 2, 2013 #15
    ok im sorry, as i explained in the beginning of the post, this was a topic of conversation while doing construction work. i in no way meant to try to imply that this is a sound theory or even possible. it was just the collection of thoughts of some construction workers and myself. i only meant to start conversation on it and maybe receive links to relevant information, or comments. I am not in school and have a very lucrative career in remodeling/ design-build industry and am not looking to publish any scientific reports. just wanted to see if our crazy conversation had any merit. I just like to better myself by continually trying to better understand the world around me, but if my posts are being received poorly i will stop.
  17. Dec 2, 2013 #16


    Staff: Mentor

    Perhaps it would help to explain the main focus of the physics forums. In general, people here are interested in helping students and laypeople understand mainstream science and math better. Delving into personal theories or speculative science (ie science not presented in peer-reviewed journals where scientists present their ideas and data for review by other scientists) is discouraged because students reading posts here cant always distinguish between the two.

    Asking questions and trying to piece together the answers is okay but at some point it might become a personal theory (ie when you start vigorously defending your position) and then we stop discussion and close the thread.

    So keep asking questions and pursue your goal of understanding nature. It is a timeless tradition of all of humanity.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  18. Dec 2, 2013 #17


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    A waterspout does not suck up water nor does it pull the clouds down. It is an intense cyclone in the air that results in a column of low pressure near the centre. The low pressure causes some of the water that was dissolved in the air to condense into droplets since low pressure air cannot hold as much water vapour as can air at normal pressure.
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