Air-earth current

From Glossary of Meteorology



air–earth current

The transfer of electric charge from the positively charged atmosphere to the negatively charged earth.

This current is made up of the air–earth conduction current, a point-discharge current, a precipitation current, a convection current, and miscellaneous smaller contributions. Of these, the air–earth conduction current is by far the largest. This is not just true locally, but throughout the world where there are no thunderstorms occurring, which is estimated to be 80%–90% percent of the earth. The existence of this quasi-steady current in fair weather and the observed maintenance of the earth's net negative charge are both better established than the nature of the supply current, which must replenish the positive charge in the upper atmosphere and the negative charge on the earth.

Gish, O. H. 1951. Compendium of Meteorology. p. 113.


Copyright 2022 American Meteorological Society (AMS). For permission to reuse any portion of this work, please contact permissions@ametsoc.org. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 U.S. Code § 107) or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S.Copyright Act (17 USC § 108) does not require AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a website or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, require written permission or a license from AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy statement.