Electrostatic Charging Processes in the Earth Atmosphere 1999-01-2366
The electric current which circulates downwards in the Earth atmosphere results from the motion of positive and negative ions drifting in opposite directions under the influence of an electric field. A body such as a balloon or a gondola, moving upwards against the electric field collects an excess of positive ions, whereas a falling body, such as a water drop, may acquire a negative charge. In a similar way, parcels of hot and cold air ascending or descending in a cloud are selectively charged. This model is proposed as an explanation for the charge separation mechanism which takes place within thunderstorm clouds characterized by vigourous turbulence and convection.