By John Alan Chalmers
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Extra info for Atmospheric Electricity
It is believed that the potential difference between the electrosphere and the earth fluctuates with the time of day and probably with the season. ) that the total charge on the inner side of the electrosphere, regarded as a conductor, is zero. Since the electrosphere is a good conductor, it acts as a perfect electrostatic shield. Thus thunderstorms or other electrical phenomena close to the earth can have no effect outside the electrosphere, since any lines of force from them must terminate at the lower side of the electrosphere.
The matter is considered in detail by AWE (1964). 42. Insulation One of the most serious problems in any investigation in atmospheric electricity is that of insulation. In any measurement which involves the collection of a charge there is a leakage which takes place with a time constant of CR, where C is the capacitance of the collector and R the leakage resistance to earth. In the actual measurement, it is often the potential which is measured and as, for a given quantity of charge Q, the potential V is g/C, it is necessary to reduce C as much as possible for the greatest sensitivity.
Therefore, to find out whether lines of force end within any given volume it would be necessary to measure the number of lines entering and leaving the volume over the whole of its boundary. So to get a complete knowledge of the distribution of charge in the atmosphere it would be necessary to make measurements at all points of the atmosphere simultaneously. Although it is impossible to determine uniquely the distribution of charge corresponding to a limited number of potential-gradient measurements, it is possible, often, to guess the distribution of charge and to show that this is not inconsistent with the measurements; other charge distributions are not precluded, but in many cases they would be unreasonable from other grounds.
Atmospheric Electricity by John Alan Chalmers