Lord Kelvin's atmospheric electricity measurements

  title={Lord Kelvin's atmospheric electricity measurements},
  author={Karen L. Aplin and R. G. Harrison},
  journal={History of Geo- and Space Sciences},
  • K. AplinR. Harrison
  • Published 23 May 2013
  • Environmental Science, Physics
  • History of Geo- and Space Sciences
Abstract. Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) made important contributions to the study of atmospheric electricity during a brief but productive period from 1859–1861. By 1859 Kelvin had recognised the need for "incessant recording" of atmospheric electrical parameters, and responded by inventing both the water dropper equaliser for measuring the atmospheric potential gradient (PG), and photographic data logging. The water dropper equaliser was widely adopted internationally and is still in use today… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Fair weather atmospheric electricity : its origin and applications

Abstract—An entirely electrostatic view of the earth upper atmosphere system, as understood for example, by Lord Kelvin, underwent a paradigm shift around 1900 with definitive observations of

Atmospheric electricity observations at Lerwick Geophysical Observatory

Abstract. Atmospheric electricity measurements were made at Lerwick Observatory, Shetland, between 1925 and 1984. These principally provide a long series of hourly potential gradient (PG)

Fair weather criteria for atmospheric electricity measurements

The global atmospheric electric circuit, which links the space environment with terrestrial weather, has mostly been investigated using fair-weather surface at- mospheric electricity measurements.

Measuring electrical properties of the lower troposphere using enhanced meteorological radiosondes

  • R. Harrison
  • Environmental Science
    Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems
  • 2021
Abstract. In atmospheric science, measurements above the surface have long been obtained by carrying instrument packages, radiosondes, aloft using balloons. Whilst occasionally used for research,

Electrical sensing of the dynamical structure

Turbulent and convective processes within the planetary boundary layer are responsible for the transport of moisture, momentum and particulate matter, but are also important in determining the

The electricity of extensive layer clouds

379 W ether – Nvem er 222, ol. 7, o. 11 the Neighbourhood of the Metropolis, 2nd Edition, 2 volumes. W. Phillips: London. Howard L. 1842. A Cycle of Eighteen Years in the Seasons of Britain; Deduced

Julius Elster and Hans Geitel – Dioscuri of physics and pioneer investigators in atmospheric electricity

Abstract. Julius Elster and Hans Geitel contributed to the physics at the turn of the 19–20th century in many ways. We first summarize the life of these exceptional scientists. Then – owing to the

Electrical sensing of the dynamical structure of the planetary boundary layer sensing of the dynamical structure the planetary boundary layer.

Turbulent and convective processes within the planetary boundary layer are responsible for the transport of moisture, momentum and particulate matter, but are also important in determining the



Atmospheric Electricity in High Latitudes

Investigation into the problems of atmospheric electricity may be divided into two periods. The first period was devoted almost entirely to measurements of the normal potential gradient in the lower

Atmospheric Electricity

The density of the ionosphere appears to follow the sunspot cycle of 11 years, and it is expected that the radio-engineer will find substantial differences in the wireless wave-lengths best suited for long-distance communication.

Investigating Earth’s Atmospheric Electricity: a Role Model for Planetary Studies

The historical development of terrestrial atmospheric electricity is described, from its beginnings with the first observations of the potential gradient to the global electric circuit model proposed

Atmospheric Electricity Potential Gradient at Kew Observatory, 1898 to 1912

In a previous paper, called E1 for brevity, I discussed the results obtained for the diurnal variation of the potential gradient of atmospheric electricity at Kew Observatory from 1898 to 1904. The

Mid-nineteenth century smoke concentrations near London

The evidence for auroral effects on atmospheric electricity

SummaryThe possibility of atmospheric electrical effects due to the aurora has been considered by investigators since 1875. An unsatisfactory theoretical basis for an explanation of observed effects

Nineteenth century Parisian smoke variations inferred from Eiffel Tower atmospheric electrical observations

Measurements of Atmospheric Electricity Aloft

  • K. Nicoll
  • Environmental Science, Physics
    Surveys in Geophysics
  • 2012
Measurements of the electrical characteristics of the atmosphere above the surface have been made for over 200 years, from a variety of different platforms, including kites, balloons, rockets and

Initial effect of the Fukushima accident on atmospheric electricity

Vertical atmospheric DC electric field at ground level, or potential gradient (PG), suddenly dropped by one order of magnitude at Kakioka, 150 km southwest from the Fukushima Dai‐ichi nuclear power