Earth without the interaction between ground and atmosphere?

In summary: Of course the cloud has its own dynamics and another positive charge towards the top, but I think this explanation still stands as the consensus for the charging system; as opposed to thunderstorms that are then the discharging system. If we calculate the total ionic flux over the surface of the earth, we find that this agrees with the total average flow of current going back to the Earth if summed over all thunderstorms. The ionic flux can be measured. At least this is what I understand as the state of the theory.
  • #1

wolram

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i know that other planets in our solar system have lightning storms
and as far as i know its natures way of keeping the electric field
between ground and atmosphere in balance, but what would happen if this system had a "glitch" and an imbalance occured, could the
atmosphere discharge into space? if so what would happen on Earth without the interaction between ground and atmosphere?
 
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  • #2
Astronauts HAVE reported lightning shooting UP from the clouds, usually they have a color. I am not sure if they actually determined what causes these sparks, I saw a video on TV a few years ago and it looks pretty cool.
 
  • #4


Originally posted by wolram
i know that other planets in our solar system have lightning storms
and as far as i know its natures way of keeping the electric field
between ground and atmosphere in balance, but what would happen if this system had a "glitch" and an imbalance occured, could the
atmosphere discharge into space? if so what would happen on Earth without the interaction between ground and atmosphere?


Actually thunderstorms act like large Van de Graff generators and charge the upper atmosphere. The ionosphere is one plate of a very large capacitor, the other plate being Earth ground. The capacitor discharges through a very small current, a few microamperes per meter squared, that can be measured with a sensitive instrument called an electrometer.
 
  • #5
It is [or at least was] thought than an approximately constant rain of positive charge falls to Earth on dust particles, raindrops, ice crystals and the like. This acts to establish the initial separation of charge that makes possible the thunderstorm. The current from this averages as about one microampere per sq. meter.

Edit: It would seem possible that as the Earth becomes more positive, this process may be affected.
 
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  • #6
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
It is [or at least was] thought than an approximately constant rain of positive charge falls to Earth on dust particles, raindrops, ice crystals and the like. This acts to establish the initial separation of charge that makes possible the thunderstorm. The current from this averages as about one microampere per sq. meter.

Edit: It would seem possible that as the Earth becomes more positive, this process may be affected.

We have a conflict of theories here, you're saying the charged particles in the atmosphere charge up the ionosphere and that's what produces thunderstorms, from what I learned the storms do the charging and the particles help to discharge the atmosphere. Much of what I learned was in the Feynman Lectures.

Does the total charge increase or decrease when the number of storms is fewer? How does the force on a charged particle, dust mote, etc., from gravity compare with the force from the electic field of the Earth? How does the total amount of dust falling compare with the total amount of rain in thunderstorms? Answering these questions would sort out the correct theory.
 
  • #7
Originally posted by Tyger
We have a conflict of theories here, you're saying the charged particles in the atmosphere charge up the ionosphere and that's what produces thunderstorms, from what I learned the storms do the charging and the particles help to discharge the atmosphere. Much of what I learned was in the Feynman Lectures.

Does the total charge increase or decrease when the number of storms is fewer? How does the force on a charged particle, dust mote, etc., from gravity compare with the force from the electic field of the Earth? How does the total amount of dust falling compare with the total amount of rain in thunderstorms? Answering these questions would sort out the correct theory.

Darn. You caught me going out the door but I can never resist answering these things.



See the Feynman Lectures on Physics. 1977 version in my case.
Vol II, Chap 9.

I have read papers about this that are more recent. The idea is that this constant positive rain creates a surface potential that is typically positive wrt the cloud. Of course the cloud has its own dynamics and another positive charge towards the top, but I think this explanation still stands as the consensus for the charging system; as opposed to thunderstorms that are then the discharging system. If we calculate the total ionic flux over the surface of the earth, we find that this agrees with the total average flow of current going back to the Earth if summed over all thunderstorms. The ionic flux can be measured. At least this is what I understand as the state of the theory.
 
  • #8
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Darn. You caught me going out the door but I can never resist answering these things.



See the Feynman Lectures on Physics. 1977 version in my case.
Vol II, Chap 9.

I have read papers about this that are more recent. The idea is that this constant positive rain creates a surface potential that is typically positive wrt the cloud. Of course the cloud has its own dynamics and another positive charge towards the top, but I think this explanation still stands as the consensus for the charging system; as opposed to thunderstorms that are then the discharging system. If we calculate the total ionic flux over the surface of the earth, we find that this agrees with the total average flow of current going back to the Earth if summed over all thunderstorms. The ionic flux can be measured. At least this is what I understand as the state of the theory.

I can see "potential" (Sorry about that!) problems with both versions. If the dust and rain droplets carry the positive charge to ground, what carries the negative charges to the ionosphere? The rain and dust particles don't get up that far. And if the Ionosphere has a negative charge, it will repel any negatively charged ions. There's no problem with accounting for the net charge and current involved. The real problem is that it takes energy to charge a capacitor, and what is the flow of energy in the system? That is what has to be accounted for to be able to say why the Earth has an electric field.

It may well be that both work in kahoots to do the job and both have to be included. And the thunderstorm may act both as a charger and a discharger, because there is lightning of both polarities and it goes all over the place.
 
  • #9
Originally posted by Tyger
I can see "potential" (Sorry about that!) problems with both versions. If the dust and rain droplets carry the positive charge to ground, what carries the negative charges to the ionosphere? The rain and dust particles don't get up that far. And if the Ionosphere has a negative charge, it will repel any negatively charged ions. There's no problem with accounting for the net charge and current involved. The real problem is that it takes energy to charge a capacitor, and what is the flow of energy in the system? That is what has to be accounted for to be able to say why the Earth has an electric field.

It may well be that both work in kahoots to do the job and both have to be included. And the thunderstorm may act both as a charger and a discharger, because there is lightning of both polarities and it goes all over the place.

I would guess that the sun starts the process and gravity finishes the job. I would guess the source for the charges are chemical reactions - such as in the formation of O3 from 2 O2s [edit: and a photon of course] - and collisions between different particles and molecules due to wind currents. In this way the sun might power the process. Then gravity carries the charges to Earth on relatively heavy particles. Although I am guessing a bit, this would seem to be consistent with other things that I have read. I will do some looking and see if my SWAGs [Scientific Wild Ass Guesses] can hold water; or if they are all wet.

It may well be that both work in kahoots to do the job and both have to be included

I think it is quite likely that many processes are responsible. After all we are talking about an entire planet.
 
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  • #10
Originally posted by Tyger
The rain and dust particles don't get up that far. And if the Ionosphere has a negative charge, it will repel any negatively charged ions.

Well I'm trying to get this straight. It seems that the ionosphere is about 70-80 Km and up [CRC]. By the following link it seems that the ozone layer is limited to about half of that height.

http://www.epa.gov/ozone/science/sc_fact.html

HMMM! Wait a minute...are you leading me down the garden path you wascal? Why are we talking about the ionosphere? Clouds don't go up that high either.

Sudden revelation: sprites and spires do. Now that's interesting... No one knows much about these things yet.

Revelation #2: And it occurs to me. We get Schumann Resonance in the ionosphere as a result of lightning on the planet. Perhaps spires and sprites are the source of Schumann Resonance. It dawned on me: How does lighting activity communicate to the ionosphere in order to establish the resonance. I had never realized the height of this boundary. Of course I guess this could be a sympathetic process..


One more thought: What about all of the material raining down from space? i.e .meteor dust, water, alien viruses designed to eradicate the human race?
 
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  • #11
http://elf.gi.alaska.edu/
this page maybe of interset bottom of page related topics

In addition to sprites and jets, but possibly related, there have recently been observed from space two other types of unexpected emissions that appear to originate in thunderstorms. Short duration (~1 ms) gamma ray (>1 MeV) bursts of terrestrial origin have been detected by the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory . They are observed to occur over thunderstorm regions, and their source is believed to lie at altitudes greater than 30 km. Finally, extremely intense pairs of VHF pulses (Trans-Ionospheric Pulse Pairs, or TIPPS (TIPP Paper Postscript Source ) originating from thunderstorm regions, but some 10,000 times stronger than sferics produced by normal lightning activity, have been observed by the ALEXIS satellite.
cheers wolram...
 
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  • #12
Originally posted by wolram
http://elf.gi.alaska.edu/
this page maybe of interset bottom of page related topics

In addition to sprites and jets, but possibly related, there have recently been observed from space two other types of unexpected emissions that appear to originate in thunderstorms. Short duration (~1 ms) gamma ray (>1 MeV) bursts of terrestrial origin have been detected by the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory . They are observed to occur over thunderstorm regions, and their source is believed to lie at altitudes greater than 30 km. Finally, extremely intense pairs of VHF pulses (Trans-Ionospheric Pulse Pairs, or TIPPS (TIPP Paper Postscript Source ) originating from thunderstorm regions, but some 10,000 times stronger than sferics produced by normal lightning activity, have been observed by the ALEXIS satellite.
cheers wolram...


See what happens when you ask a simple question...
 
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1. What would happen to the temperature on Earth without the interaction between ground and atmosphere?

The temperature on Earth would be extremely cold without the interaction between ground and atmosphere. The atmosphere acts as an insulating layer, trapping heat from the Sun and preventing it from escaping into space. Without this interaction, the Earth's surface would quickly cool down, resulting in freezing temperatures.

2. How would plants and animals survive without the interaction between ground and atmosphere?

Plants and animals would not be able to survive on Earth without the interaction between ground and atmosphere. The atmosphere provides essential gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide for respiration and photosynthesis. The ground also plays a crucial role in providing nutrients and support for plant growth. Without these interactions, life on Earth would not be possible.

3. Would there still be weather patterns on Earth without the interaction between ground and atmosphere?

No, there would not be weather patterns on Earth without the interaction between ground and atmosphere. The atmosphere is responsible for creating and sustaining weather patterns through the movement of air, moisture, and heat. Without this interaction, there would be no winds, precipitation, or other weather events.

4. How would the Earth's water cycle be affected without the interaction between ground and atmosphere?

The Earth's water cycle would cease to exist without the interaction between ground and atmosphere. The atmosphere plays a crucial role in the water cycle by evaporating water from the Earth's surface and transporting it to different locations through precipitation. Without this interaction, there would be no rain, rivers, or lakes on Earth.

5. What would happen to the Earth's atmosphere without the interaction with the ground?

Without the interaction between ground and atmosphere, the Earth's atmosphere would not be able to sustain itself. The ground plays a significant role in regulating the composition of the atmosphere through processes such as photosynthesis and the release of gases from volcanoes. Without these interactions, the atmosphere would quickly become unbalanced, leading to changes in temperature, pressure, and gas concentrations.

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