Earth's 'Electrical Heartbeat' Found to Affect Cloud Formation
Scientists at the UK's University of Reading have discovered that the height of clouds changes by up to 200 meters over the course of the day under the influence of a global 'electrical heartbeat' in the atmosphere. Scientists have been aware of the daily global ebb and flow of electric current through the atmosphere for 100 years, when it was shown to vary consistently throughout the day wherever on the planet it was measured. This regular variation, effectively a global electrical heartbeat, is known as the Carnegie curve. The electric current is caused by electrified storms across the world and previously, no connection had been made between this current and the formation of clouds. Meteorologists Giles Harrison and Maarten Ambaum discovered the link by analyzing cloud base measurements made during polar darkness when there are few other influences on cloud formation. "The realization the electrical heartbeat of the planet plays a role in the formation of layer clouds indicates that existing models for clouds and climate are still missing potentially important components," said Ambaum. "Understanding these missing elements is crucial to improve the accuracy of our weather forecasts and predicting changes to our climate."