Charge measurements in stratiform cloud from a balloon based sensor

K. A. Nicoll, R. G. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Abstract. The electrification of stratiform clouds has is little investigated in comparison with thunderstorms and fair weather atmospheric electricity. Theory indicates that, at the upper and lower horizontal boundaries of layer clouds, charging will arise from vertical flow of cosmogenic ions in the global atmospheric electric circuit. Charge is transferred to droplets and particles, affecting cloud microphysical processes such as collision and droplet activation. Due to the lack of in-situ measurements, the magnitude and distribution of charge in stratiform clouds is not well known. A sensitive, inexpensive, balloon borne charge sensor has been developed to make in-situ measurements of edge charging in stratiform cloud using a standard meteorological radiosonde system. The charge sensor has now been flown through over 20 stratiform clouds and frequently detected charge up to 200 pC m-3 near cloud edges. These results are compared with measurements from the same sensor used to investigate charge in particle layers, such as volcanic ash from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, and Saharan dust in the Cape Verde Isles. 1.
Original languageEnglish
Article number012003
JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2011


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