J. Phys. IV France 139 (2006) 157-166
Atmospheric electromagnetics and climate changeM. Fullekrug
Center for Space, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Bath, Bath, UK
(Published online: 9 January 2007)
Clouds are the largest uncertainty in future projections of climate. This critically important uncertainty is addressed by studying the role of atmospheric electromagnetics in cloud initiation. Cloud droplets are produced by cloud condensation nuclei. However, the formation of cloud condensation nuclei ultimately relies on physical mechanisms on the atomic and molecular scale which influence the meta-stable phase transition between condensation and evaporation. At these small spatial scales, electrical forces are important. A small yet non-zero influence of electric fields and energetic charged particles on the formation of cloud condensation nuclei would have important consequences for climate change, as small changes in cloud initiation can lead to large changes in global temperature. The current knowledge on the role of atmospheric electromagnetics and energetic charged particles in cloud initiation and climate change is summarised and recommendations for future work are proposed.
© EDP Sciences 2006