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A good discussion with Rasmus Benestad--continued

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  • Mike Doran
    At Real Climate Rasmus Benestad wrote in respones to my previous reply to him: We do not need to invoke these aspects of electric fields and so on to explain
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2005
      At Real Climate Rasmus Benestad wrote in respones to my previous
      reply to him:

      "We do not need to invoke these aspects of electric fields and so on
      to explain cyclones. They can readily be simulated in computer models
      describing the dynamics and thermodynamics. Cyclones are also
      routinely simulated in weather models that do not take the electric
      field into account."

      The NHC has over FORTY models they use to project tropical storm
      dynamics and it is difficult to respond to whether or not these
      models seriondipudoudly are taking into account the capacitive
      couplings that impact cloud microphysics that I am describing for you



      11A 18.00 -79.20 08/12/06Z 75 989 HURRICANE-1
      12 19.70 -81.20 08/12/15Z 80 983 HURRICANE-1
      12A 19.20 -80.50 08/12/12Z 75 986 HURRICANE-1
      13 19.70 -81.20 08/12/15Z 80 983 HURRICANE-1
      13A 20.40 -81.50 08/12/18Z 85 980 HURRICANE-2
      14 21.20 -81.90 08/12/21Z 90 980 HURRICANE-2
      14A 21.70 -82.30 08/13/00Z 90 976 HURRICANE-2
      15 22.20 -82.40 08/13/03Z 90 975 HURRICANE-2
      15A 23.00 -82.60 08/13/06Z 90 973 HURRICANE-2
      16 23.90 -82.90 08/13/09Z 95 970 HURRICANE-2
      16A 24.30 -82.90 08/13/11Z 95 969 HURRICANE-2
      16B 24.70 -82.90 08/13/13Z 95 970 HURRICANE-2
      17 25.20 -82.80 08/13/15Z 95 965 HURRICANE-2
      17A 25.70 -82.50 08/13/17Z 110 964 HURRICANE-3
      18 26.00 -82.40 08/13/18Z 125 954 HURRICANE-4
      19 26.90 -82.20 08/13/21Z 120 941 HURRICANE-4
      19A 27.70 -81.80 08/13/23Z 100 950 HURRICANE-3
      19B 28.40 -81.40 08/14/01Z 80 965 HURRICANE-1
      20 29.10 -81.10 08/14/03Z 75 975 HURRICANE-1
      20A 30.10 -80.80 08/14/06Z 75 993 HURRICANE-1
      21 31.20 -80.50 08/14/09Z 75 994 HURRICANE-1
      21A 32.30 -79.70 08/14/12Z 75 993 HURRICANE-1
      22 33.20 -79.00 08/14/15Z 65 990 HURRICANE-1

      I have the 12 pm http://www.lightningstorm.com picture from 8/14/04
      at midnight PDT at our yahoo group
      http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/methanehydrateclub under the
      pictures directory which corresponds to the blow up and the right
      turn. It was a 62,000 strike event. I will email it to anyone on
      request. Bonnie was over Georgia at the time and provided an
      intensification of the trough and the strikes along it, so the huge
      number of strikes in the CONUS were to the NW of the storm. It
      turned and intensified in the direction of those strikes. I have
      been observing this phenomenon real time for two years now.

      Rasmus Benestad continues to write:

      "There is no secret that some clouds - like thunder clouds - involve
      lightning and electrical phenomena. This is most likely a result of
      the cloud formation rather than electro-dynamical processes causing
      the clouds themselves (mind you, there are also clouds that produce
      that rain but do not produce lightning...). The dynamics and
      thermodynamics are fairly well-understood: convection (updraughts)
      bring moist air up and the water vapour condenses (usually on cloud
      condensation nuclei, CCN) as the air gets supersaturated - it cools
      as it ascends and expands (lower pressure). The electro-dynamical
      aspects are likely to be 'bi-products' of the process - interesting,
      but there are not much empirical evidence for electro-dynamical
      processes playing any role in the formation of clouds."

      Here is where I think Rasmus Benestad is suggesting a
      misunderstanding. I agree that thunderstorms do not have much
      microphysics changes due to local strike activity. Let me see if I
      can describe his error. First he must understand what a capacitor
      is. A capacitor is two conductive plates that essentially are not
      passing a direct current but are passing a field, that causes an
      stability that holds opposing charges. Okay? Where convection
      occurs and strikes run to the earth (most strikes pass negative
      voltages), there is a corresponding direct current from the
      ionosphere to the clouds that have lost their charge and have become
      relatively positively charged. This is how the lower ionosphere
      becomes positively charged? Following so far?

      But since land isn't all that conductive, there is little capacitive
      coupling that occurs from the ionosphere to land where the
      thunderstorms are occurring. What THEN happens is the relatively
      positive charge DIRECTLY flows in the conductive ionosphere. It can
      have a wave like pulse to it, but when you have 60,000 strikes in a
      short period of time as Charley blew up and right turned, what a
      lightning strike is to the global electrical circuit is the
      ionosphere getting a very positive charge to it relative to the

      Rasmus Benestad has admitted this much:

      "Lightning probably play an important role for the ambient (fair
      weather) electric field that exist between the upper atmosphere and

      So that positive charge then runs to the oceans where it COUPLES with
      the oceans. Now this is where you must follow slowly: The
      transiants OBSERVED above Hurricane Felix by NASA was on the order of
      ke Volts or order of magnetude 10 to 9th power or 1000 Kvolts/meter.

      By my calculations from above the electric field used in the China
      experiment was 250 kV/m. In other words, the China paper used an ion
      solution that caused VISABLE microphysics change and that is a full
      order of magnetude LESS than observed fields above a tropical
      hurricane. On top of that, we are not talking about pure water when
      we are talking about a tropical storm. It is well observed that when
      a tropical storm comes ashore the smell of ocean is overwhelming--
      indeed the high speed winds whip up salt water spray--hurricanes are
      comprised of a fair degree of salinity in the convecting clouds.
      This makes the clouds even more suspeptible to the DC couplings
      between ionosphere and ocean.

      Rasmus Benestad continues to write:

      "It is believed that a so-called charge-separation must take place
      for lightening to occur in order to enhance the electrical field in
      the cloud. The charge separation is not very well understood, but one
      explanation is that it must involve freezing processes and
      splintering/fracturing as the outer shell of drops freeze before
      their core. When the drops' core freeze, the shell splinters due to
      expansion of the freezing core. There have been some suggestions that
      electric fields may enhance the formation of drops (electro-freezing
      hypotheses; Tinsley and others), but as far as I know, there are no
      conclusive empirical evidence for this actually occurring in the real
      atmosphere, and besides, this process may be unimportant as the drop
      formation could also happen in the absence of an electric field. TCs
      form in a similar fashion to clouds, albeit in a more extreme fashion
      due to a instabilities. Again, I do not believe that electro-
      dynamical processes play an important role in their formation. "

      The key thing to appreciate with the tropical storm DC couplings
      between ionosphere and ocean, which again, have been show to cause
      OBSERVABLE microphysics differences in the super cool droplets (which
      leads to phase change differences and in accumulation viscosity,
      baratropical orders) is that water and for that matter cold water has
      a dielectric constant difference between air. Therefore, the DC
      couplings experienced at the eye of a hurricane are MUCH different
      than experienced over the cloud disk:

      C = å0 * år * A / d


      C is the capacitance in farads
      å0 is the permittivity of free space, measured in farad per metre
      år is the dielectric constant or relative permittivity of the
      insulator used
      A is the area of each plane electrode, measured in square meters
      d is the separation between the electrodes, measured in meters

      So note that Capacitance varies directly with whether water or really
      cold water is inbetween the virtual plate of the ionosphere and the
      conductive surface of the ocean, as water has a dielectric constant
      of about 80 compared to air of about 1. Furthermore, cold water runs
      all the way up to 88 for the dielectric constant. Basically,
      capacitance is a description of how well a field will move from plate
      to plate--and that is to say that the intense DC field that would
      change microphysics properties would hence be either in the eye of
      the tropical storm or along its edges where water vapors then diffuse
      to the more convecting cloud masses, furthering organizations.

      Because the strike data that appears at http://www.lightningstorm.com
      is relatively new technology, along with satellite observations of IR
      characteristics, from which you can directly infer cloud temperature
      and hence dielectric constant meaning, real time observations of this
      theory have been recent. But they verify.
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