Here is a conversation that I had with him that really is a
conversation that we've been perculating here for years.
Jim Hughes wrote:
"The size of the eruption...magnetic field...location etc. play a
much bigger role then the flares x-ray size. Even a smaller class C-
flare can bombard the earth with more particles than then the bigger
ones sometimes. "
There is an electron belt (-), a proton belt (+)--the so called van
Allen belts, and then the upper ionosphere (-), the lower ionosphere
(+), and ground (-) and a notion that opposing charges are attracted
to each other. A proton wind can essentially distort orders brought
about by a living earth. Interestingly, I learned from you space
weather people that the distortion in the van Allen belts following
rapid changes in SSTs at the end of the 1997-8 El Nino were triggered
by a solar wind change:
"[A]round May 8, 1998, there were a series of large, solar
disturbances that caused a new radiation belt to form in the so-
called "slot region" between the inner and outer van Allen belts. The
new belt eventually disappeared once the solar activity subsided.
The cloud behaviors changed so dramatically that incredibly rapid SST
For SST changes, see:
Electrical change later equates to a thermal change. How does this
happen? What is occurring? There is a device in electronics called a
capacitor. Picture two 'T's head up against each other. Capacitors
are used to pass alternating currents like the kind of electrical
current in the plug that drives your computer. Capacitors are NOT
designed to pass a direct current. One cool thing about EMFs is that
they pass in space. Particles, too, move in space. BUT, electrical
currents, direct ones, do not. Confused? Did you know there is a
difference between materials as insulating to an ELECTRICAL CURRENT
but not to a MAGENTIC FIELD? Still confused?
When a capacitor has an applied direct current of a positive voltage
to one end, this will cause the other end, the plate, to have the
opposite charge. That is because the flux lines created by the ions
on the plate, or the magnetic field of the electrical current, will
pass across the capicitor even though the current will not.
When it comes to an alternating current (think sine wave) in a
perfect capacitor the signal will pass as the electrons on either end
of the plates will always go the other way, so you get an output
signal that they say is 180 degrees out of phase of the input signal.
In the case of earth's belts and ionosphere, they act as coincentric
spheres that trap conductive particles in shapes much like a virtual
plate to a capacitor. Since a hurricane moves, and its clouds act to
focus the field due to the differences in dielectric constants
between air (eye) DC=1, clouds DC=80 and cold clouds DC=88, you have
a wave features to the capacitor behaviors. Strikes in regions near
tropical storms then act to 'power' that capacitive coupling--and
impacts the cloud microphysics that conform to the electrical orders
brought about by the barotropical orders.
. . .
"Rarely seen lightning fields and purple sprites were detected in the
eye of the hurricane by the ER-2 pilot as he flew more than 19.8 km
(65,000 ft) above the Atlantic."
That would be the capactive state. The direct currents, or the
strikes, are rare:
"Surprisingly, not much lightning occurs in the inner core within
about 100 km or 60 mi of the tropical cyclone center. Only around a
dozen or less cloud-to-ground strikes per hour occur around the
eyewall of the storm...."
Consistent with this, Burke et al.  has reported the detection
of keV electrons and large electric field transients above a
hurricane. These various observations all suggest that what is
occurring at the ocean surface couples to the ionosphere. The
coupling mechanisms was said by them not to be well understood, but
it seems probable that "capacitive coupling" through the displacement
current may drive conduction currents within the ionosphere [Hale and
Let me see if I can put this into English. Say there is a huge
relatively positive charge above an eye in a hurricane. This is what
has been observed, BTW by Burke et al.--because negative electrons
charges implies nearby positive charges, and overall the ionosphere
is positively charged relative to the surface. Now, lightning does
not occur much inside a tropical storm. So those charge accumulations-
-that huge, have to be held there by some force. In this case, the
topology of the hurricane itself both prevents the charges from
moving and at the same time provides magnetic flux lines that hold
the charges in place.
In this case, the ocean below the tropical storm provides a
conductive area where opposing charges are held on the ocean surface,
and held the more due to the fact that as the surface low roils and
depressurizes the oceans, CO2 comes out of solution and rises to the
surface, where it runs back to ion form, increasing the surface
conductivity by an increased ion count in the context of the same
electrical fields that influence the chemical equillibrium constant
toward the production of more ions.
Now, what does this have to do with space weather? Well, the fact is,
after the lower ionosphere, which is positively charged, there is the
upper ionosphere, then the proton and electron containing van Allen
belts, also which would hold by the same capacitive couplings
opposing charges above each successive layer. If space weather comes
and distorts these fields, which it does, it impacts the stability of
the ionosphere above the tropical storm, and then that instability
impacts the cloud microphysics which are impacted by the DC coupling
in the eye and storm convection edges, feeder bands. Again, the self
organization is due to the fact that water has a greater dielectric
constant over air.
. . .
I have a question for you.
High frequency light would tend to cause O2 to be split into ozone at
a higher rate. So after a period of solar activity, which may by
itself disrupt the capacitive couplings that organize a storm, should
the space wind drop and the event wane, there is still then a
remaining relatively increased level of ozone, which is of course
conductive, that may increase the conductivity of the ionosphere and
increase the ability for an intense capacitive coupling to occur that
has the degree of power to cause the cloud microphysics changes
required for a tropical storm to form.
In any event, with the next storm to come I will point out some
specific mesovortices bahaviors tied to lightning, which but for an
EMF connection should have NOTHING to do with such a behavior from a
purely barotropical standpoint (especially if the strikes are in the
CONUS in the afternoon when the tropical storm is on the night side
of the planet. There is no other reasonable explaination.) Occum's
razer, baby. Just sliced you.
Then Jim Hughes wrote back:
"Yes Mike you can have an increase in ozone production during
increased solar activity.. not sure about the exact numbers... but
you can also have a reversed relationship occur during large proton
I think I recall reading that the one last January , second only to
the October 1989 proton flare reduced the ozone by approximately 1%.
That's pretty big in the whole scheme of things....Major stratwarm
followed down the road a bit at the 30 hPa level I believe it was
also related to the QBO / solar hemisphere origin. "
I wrote back:
"Now, the question is is that reduction due to the proton flow
UNIFORM. No way it is. The protons run along the closing isobars of
the earth EMF whereas the high freq light runs to the tropics. If
anything, the lack of ozone in the temp zones with its increased
levels in the tropics produces capacitive couplings to a greater
organized degree in the tropics!!!