Magnetic Field Under a Thunder Storm

1. May 16, 2010

taylaron

Hello, I've been trying to figure out the shape of the magnetic field that would accompany the movement of electrons in the ground moving towards the center of the thunderstorm.
In a perfect world where the electron distribution is even in the ground and where the earth consists of like materials, what would the magnetic field look like if drawn out?

i'm having difficulty picturing the field as it relies on non-traditional electron movement through a medium. The right hand rule seems difficult to employ.

Regards,

-Tay

2. May 16, 2010

Staff: Mentor

Could you please provide some context and background to your question? Is it for a graduate level project, personal interest, work related, etc? What research have you done so far, and what have you found? What about those results confuses and intrigues you?

3. May 17, 2010

taylaron

The primary reason why I’m seeking this data is for my personal research into the formation conditions of ball lightning. I do not intend to delve into the highly debatable topic of ball lightning in this thread.
Some basic information about cumulonimbus clouds from Mark Stenhoff’s Ball Lightning: An Unsolved Problem in Atmospheric Physics:

Cumulonimbus clouds often have a negative charge near the earth and a positive charge on the top of the cloud. Such a cloud might contain about 40 coulombs (up to an excess of 100 coulombs) of static electricity. Such a high concentration of charge in the sky would cause electrons in the earth below the cloud to repel from that area. Of course, this would happen during the entire length of the storm, but it is the shape of the magnetic field created by the fleeting electrons in the earth that I am interested in.

Of course the rate at which electrons repelled in the earth is determined by many factors including the intensity of the electric field created by the cloud as well as the conductivity of the varying mediums in the earth and charge density in the various regions near the cloud prior to the cloud’s formation.

It is the magnetic field caused by the movement of charges away (or towards) the center of a hemispherical conductive mass that I’m investigating.

I’m having difficulty visualizing the magnetic field because the direction of the moving electrons in this mass is not uniform as it is in a wire. This makes the right hand rule difficult to apply. When applied to the individual motion of each electron in the mass, the field becomes difficult to visualize in three dimensions.

I’ve been unable to find any examples of studies investigating such a field online.

I am an undergraduate student studying electrical engineering. My current understanding of physics and QED is limited but I do understand many concepts involved in the movement of electrons. However my understanding of the math is limited. My calculus education is in progress.

Thank you for your input.
Regards,

-Tay

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