Earth's Atmospheric Global Electric Circuit

Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When we talk about the Global Electric Circuit we are describing how electricity naturally flows around the earth throughout the entire atmosphere. Electricity in the atmosphere can be affected by huge events like solar storms and cosmic rays down to small things like individual clouds. While we have known since Benjamin Franklin's time that electricity exists in the atmosphere, scientists are just beginning to understand the relationships between the different events that affect it. Could the amount of electricity in the atmosphere change the way clouds and storms develop? Could solar events impact the severity of winter storms? By doing basic research and creating computer models, scientists hope to answer these kind of questions - and perhaps find answers to questions we didn't even think to ask. Researchers at the University of Colorado, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Pennsylvania State University, and elsewhere are at the frontiers of science with research on Earth's global electric circuit sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Topics:Earth System, Sun and Space Weather, Energy and Sustainability, Computer Modeling, Data and Data Analysis
Audience:General public, Informal education, Upper elementary, Middle school, High school

Script:  Teresa Eastburn, Noah Besser

Script Editing:  

Jeff Forbes, Project PI for the Frontiers in Earth System Dynamics (FESD) Research, Professor, University of Colorado, Dept. of Aerospace Engineering Sciences

Art Richmond, Co-PI, Scientist, NCAR, High Altitude Observatory

Victor Pasko, Co-PI, Professor of Electrical Engineering & Graduate Program Coordinator, Pennsylvania State University

Animation:  Noah Besser, Parker Street Productions

Funding: The National Science Foundation, Frontiers of Earth System Dynamics (FESD) Grant