The Atmospheric Electricity Paradigm

The Atmospheric Electricity Paradigm Remarkable aspects of the thundercloud are its intense electrification, precipitation, and convection. A satisfactory understanding of how a thunderstorm works will require a continuing series of investigations to explore the complicated interrelationships among these phenomena. Until now the major effort has been devoted to studies of how precipitation causes electrification.For a century, investigations of thunderstorms have been dominated by the idea that lightning is produced by a charge-separation process within the cloud caused by falling precipitation. The origin of this idea, its implications, present status, and probable future are examined in the light of T. S. Kuhn's views on the nature of scientific progress. Despite some achievements, the results of research based on the precipitation theory have proved disappointing. For example, they have shed little light on important problems such as the factors that determine the polarity of the cloud electric dipole and the role that electricity plays in meteorological processes. During this century, with the discovery of cosmic rays and the ionization they produce in the air above the cloud, it has become apparent that other processes, which do not involve contact charge separation or falling precipitation, are also causing electrification.Thunderstorms exercise great influence, for both good and bad, on many human activities. In view of their great environmental importance, it is surprising how little is known about them and how little effort is being made to understand how they work. It is urged that the present limited thunderstorm research activities be expanded to include new, and possibly more productive, approaches. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society American Meteorological Society

The Atmospheric Electricity Paradigm

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Publisher
American Meteorological Society
Copyright
Copyright © American Meteorological Society
ISSN
1520-0477
D.O.I.
10.1175/1520-0477(1994)075<0053:TAEP>2.0.CO;2
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Remarkable aspects of the thundercloud are its intense electrification, precipitation, and convection. A satisfactory understanding of how a thunderstorm works will require a continuing series of investigations to explore the complicated interrelationships among these phenomena. Until now the major effort has been devoted to studies of how precipitation causes electrification.For a century, investigations of thunderstorms have been dominated by the idea that lightning is produced by a charge-separation process within the cloud caused by falling precipitation. The origin of this idea, its implications, present status, and probable future are examined in the light of T. S. Kuhn's views on the nature of scientific progress. Despite some achievements, the results of research based on the precipitation theory have proved disappointing. For example, they have shed little light on important problems such as the factors that determine the polarity of the cloud electric dipole and the role that electricity plays in meteorological processes. During this century, with the discovery of cosmic rays and the ionization they produce in the air above the cloud, it has become apparent that other processes, which do not involve contact charge separation or falling precipitation, are also causing electrification.Thunderstorms exercise great influence, for both good and bad, on many human activities. In view of their great environmental importance, it is surprising how little is known about them and how little effort is being made to understand how they work. It is urged that the present limited thunderstorm research activities be expanded to include new, and possibly more productive, approaches.

Journal

Bulletin of the American Meteorological SocietyAmerican Meteorological Society

Published: Jan 15, 1994

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