By John Alan Chalmers
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Additional resources for Atmospheric Electricity
T h e fundamental fact is the change in conductivity, and the change in potential gradient is a consequence of this. The above discussion in terms of current density gives all the information that might be required in regard to the values of the potential gradients at different heights, without needing to take any account of space charges. However, to obtain a complete picture of the location of charges, we can consider lines of force, the density of which gives the potential gradient. If a positive potential gradient decreases on rising, there must be fewer lines of force higher up than lower down, and the missing lines of force must have positive charges at their upper ends, giving a positive space charge and hence an excess of positive over negative ions.
High clouds (cirrus, cirrostratus and cirrocumulus) and medium clouds (altocumulus and altostratus) are also of small importance in atmospheric electricity, though early workers suggested electrical effects connected with cirrus-type clouds (see § 1 7 ) . 46. The Initiation of Precipitation from Ice BERGERON ( 1 9 3 3 ) put forward the theory that precipitation originates as ice particles. According to this theory, as the water droplets in a cloud rise in the updraught, being cooled by adiabatic expansion in the process, some of them freeze, either spontaneously or by reason of special nuclei.
It is interesting and instructive to consider how a change of conduc tivity with height could actually bring about the change of potential gradient with height and the positive space charge, starting with an original condition of uniform gradient all the way from the earth to the ionosphere. Then lines of force would be continuous and there would be no space charge. Now, because the conductivity increases with height. GENERAL PRINCIPLES A N D RESULTS 31 there will be a larger vertical current higher up than lower down, and so, if ions of both signs carry the current, there will be more positive ions moving down at a high level than at a lower level and so the number of positive ions in any volume will increase; in the same way, since negative ions move upwards, the number of negative ions in a volume will decrease.
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