Chapter Five – The Summer Thermopile
Even consensus science acknowledges a super-cell thunderstorm is electric. They often liken it to a battery, where immense static charge builds as it sweeps over the land, and winds internally stir water and ice.
Convection cells of warm moist air rise into frigid layers of the stratosphere, causing condensation towers with anvil tops. Winds rise and fall carrying rain and hail, and occasionally twist into vortexes that drop to the ground and scour the scrim of humanity from their path.
These are effects of temperature and pressure in the act of convection we are told.
The proper electrical analogy for a super-cell storm is a thermopile. Actually, it’s not an analogy, it’s what it is.
A thermopile is a thermo-electric circuit that you’ve probably seen in use. Plug-in-the-cigarette-lighter ice coolers made for cars use the thermo-electric effect. Look it up if your curious, we’ll only need to talk about the basics.
Thermo-couples are an instrument to measure temperature that use the thermo-electric effect. It’s a circuit that couldn’t be simpler. All it takes is two, or more wires of different conductivity connected in series. When current is passed through, a temperature difference arises at the junction of the wires. Or reverse that – heat the wires, and generate a current. The effect can also be made with solid state materials in a manner very similar to photo-voltaic solar cells.
The different electrical properties of the dissimilar materials create a temperature difference – one conductor chills and the other heats up in the presence of current; or vice versa, current is produced by a temperature difference.
Full stop and allow me to repeat that. Current is produced by a temperature difference. Temperature is a consequence of electrodynamics. There are all kinds of things one can delve into about temperature and radiation and how it’s transported by conduction and convection, but the bottom line is electricity – excited electrons. Most people don’t think of it that way, and they should.
There are three related mathematical relationships that describe the conversion of current to heat and heat to current in terms of a circuit, called the Seebeck, Peltier and Thomson effects. The differences are not important – they describe different conditions and aspects of the same thing. Current produces heat, and heat produces current, provided the right dissimilar materials are properly arranged in the circuit.
The current-temperature relationship is precisely understood. Properly calibrated thermo-couples are used to detect the slightest temperature differences in every kind of scientific and industrial application, as well as to measure the most extreme temperatures.
The relevance to a thunderhead is in the central updraft core of the storm, which becomes a thermo-couple circuit. It’s a flow of wind bearing ionic matter – water vapor is one, and surface dust is another – which produces a current.
The updraft rapidly chills as it rises, becoming more saturated with condensate and more ionization. It also shrinks. The central updraft column gets denser as it rises, so the column has to shrink in volume, and this causes it to speed-up.
All of these changes to the state of the air in the updraft drastically change the conductivity of the air in the column. The updraft column is electrically no different than a wire of changing conductivity, which in the presence of current, will exhibit a thermo-electric effect.
It won’t maybe do it, it’s gonna do it. It has to do it. In the presence of a huge electric field, a wet, surface-wind rising into the cold dry stratosphere is going to cause a whopper electric current. If anyone doubts this, go look at a thunderstorm.
When there is a sequence of several conductors of different conductivity in series, the thermo-electric effect can be amplified by adding more junctions. This is called a thermopile. It’s several thermo-couples connected together.
A super-cell thunderstorm is a thermopile. It has more than one ionization event and each one changes the column’s conductivity in a feedback that increases current and amplifies ionization.
The rising central updraft ionizes where the moisture is saturating and condensing, or freezing, at specific temperature layers. All around the column is a shear zone between it and the surrounding air, and this is where the ions go to collect. The shear zone is an interface – a dielectric barrier that attracts charged species to it.
Have you ever seen llamas in a field? They always stand at the fence, because they are like guard dogs protecting their perimeter. Charge does the same thing. It flows to the interface, like a llama runs to the fence. And if there is a hole in the fence it leaks out.
There is a perception of a charged species being an independent particle that will immediately be attracted to the first oppositely charged particle it finds and neutralize. Plasma won’t do that. It acts as a coherent fluid, organized by electric field. It seeks balance in an equi-potential layer transverse to the electric field, so it spills out from the walls of the column and forms ‘sheets’, which is what is detected in thunderstorms: ‘sheets’ of charged species.
They actually have more complex geometry than a ‘sheet’. They organize into plasma coronas that actively spit out electrons and ions in channeled currents. Coronas have a geometry and produce effects that depend on the polarity of the charged species mix.
The channels of discharge they create explain every aspect of a super-cell thunderstorms. Coronas explain rain, downdrafts, tornadoes and lightning. They explain cloud-to-ground lightning and positive lightning; intra-cloud lightning and inter-cloud lightning. They explain sprites, elves and gnomes – electrical discharges to space that are the Earth’s equivalent to a solar flare, caused by the same thing – coronas.
They explain the shape of wall clouds, beaver-tails, meso-cyclones and anvils. They explain things I haven’t even heard of yet, but before this week is out I will read an article about some aspect of a thunderstorms I didn’t know, and it will explain that too.
Because this is the electric model of a thunderstorm it’s closer to the truth. It’s not that convection doesn’t occur, it does. But convection is heat transfer and that is fundamentally electric, like everything else.
Heat is atoms getting excited, which is a purely electrical thing. Add heat to a volume of atoms and they will spread out and try to cool down. They prefer a state of rest. But if you contain that volume, bottle it up so it can’t use more space, the pressure and temperature rise. Pressure is the result of the excited atoms trying to push outward, but being confined from doing so. Pressure and temperature are intimately related as physical expressions of electrodynamics.
Convection cells form like hot air balloons. Imagine big balloons of warm air with invisible envelopes all jostling together and rising. When they begin to form, electro-dynamic forces have already been at work. Solar radiation and heat from the land warmed the air in the first place. The air carries an ambient ionic charge. As they rise they ionize more as moisture in the air condenses.
It’s been known since the beginning of the twentieth century, that a fast-moving charged particle will cause sudden condensation of water along its path. In 1911, Charles Wilson used this principle to devise the cloud chamber so he could photograph the tracks of fast-moving electrons.
In 2007, Henrik Svensmark published a theory on galactic cosmic ray influence on cloud formation, and later demonstrated his theory in a cloud chamber at Cern, demonstrating certain cloud formations are catalyzed by cosmic rays ionizing the atmosphere.
These are examples of ionization causing condensation. Let’s postulate condensation causes ionization too.
Water vapor condensing into droplets self-ionize into cations and anions. In the hugely building electric field of a thunderstorm, they ions are torn apart as they form, filling the rising air with charged species. This condensation event forms the first corona, a negative corona around the central updraft with charge density concentrated in the lower clouds where condensation first occurs.
Another corona forms higher. This is the anvil top, caused by another ionization event, when the water freezes to ice. The ionic mix here is different and a positive corona is the result. It has a different shape, being a broad diameter and less dense in terms of charge density.
The coronas are the thermopile’s different current junctions, where charge bleeds out into a corona, just as it would from a power line if the insulation is damaged. Atmosphere is a leaky insulator. It’s the strength of the electric field that gives the storm it’s shape.
And once this motor gets started – the conveyor belt of wet wind in the updraft keeps rev’ing as charge density builds. The rain curtain and downdraft are the same current looping and dumping hydrolyzed charge in the form of rain at the exhaust of the updraft.
It’s a looping current from ground to atmosphere, and back to ground, in a continuously changing conductive path through several temperature regimes – a thermopile.
And so builds the strength of the corona, until it spits electrons that avalanche into lightning bolts. If conditions are right, a charged corona will lower towards the ground, abating it’s lightning to send downwards a twisting tendril of plasma, while stirring ground winds below into a vortex. A tornado is born of a corona.
Coronas develop unipolar winds. Where charge density is low, the corona can’t make lightning, but it still spits electrons that drift towards ground. The drift region of a corona creates winds as drifting electrons drag ions and neutral matter along. Downdraft, inflow and updraft winds result.
In the above diagram, a point electrode generates a corona opposed to a plate electrode connected to ground, with a gap in between. This is a similar circuit to a storm except the corona in the clouds would not have the geometry of a point electrode, but likely a flattened toroidal shape.
The region in the gap labelled drift region, channels of current are created based on the charge density of the region of corona from which it radiates. The outer edges where charge density and electric field tension are lowest, channels form electric, or unipolar winds.
Sudden and intense down-bursts are highly mysterious to atmospheric scientists and they attribute them to density bombs – pockets of dense heavy air that rapidly sink from the clouds. These violent downdrafts will slap airliners from the sky. They aren’t density bombs – they are unipolar winds.
The entire morphology of a thunderstorm is explained by a thermopile circuit with leaky insulation. But that isn’t all it is. In Electric Earth Theory, there is a more significant meaning.
The looping circuit of a super-cell is a weak form of electrical expression known as a coronal loop. Coronal loops are the result of the corona’s themselves moving relative to the plate electrode. The differential movement creates an offset between the center of charge density in the sky versus the center of charge density on the ground, distorting the electric field. It’s a dog chasing a cat that can never catch-up – negative chasing positive polarity in a wave.
The result is it bends the current into a loop. It goes up in a flowing discharge of current and comes down, energy expended and recombined into rain. If charge builds enough, though, the loop breaks out into a fully realized discharge. The current has broken through the dielectric barrier of the atmosphere to splash charge into space. On the Sun we call them Solar Flares, and Coronal Mass Ejections. On Earth we call them Sprites, Elves and Gnomes.
So, here we are in the world of plasma. Double layers, Alfven waves, z-pinches and corona – it happens in our everyday lives as much as it does on the surface of the Sun – because it’s all the same thing.
So too, we have symmetry. Not the artificial symmetry of mathematical equations and categories consensus science keeps force fitting to Nature, but Nature’s true symmetry of nested fractal repetition.
This why we can be confident it’s true. Such organization and harmonic resonance between phenomena across all orders of scale is not the result of random anything. It’s the result of electricity.
The same phenomena is found on any planetary body that carries an internal current that forms an electromagnetic field. The coronal loops are ultimately caused by the voltage between the magnetosphere and Telluric currents below Earth’s crust, just as they occur above and below the photosphere of the Sun and in the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn and Venus.
As above, so below… the ancients knew what was going on and they weren’t just talking about the sky. They were talking about below the ground, too.
The electrical stress across the layers of atmosphere and crust is charge building on layers of dielectric, which is what a capacitor is. A storm is an expression of capacitor discharge. If clever technicians made a high voltage capacitor with a fluid dielectric over a grounded flat plate dielectric they would see coronal loops form, I’ll bet.
Tornadoes are a harmonic fractal repetition of the super-cell storm as a whole. They are nested coronal loops inside the bigger loop of the storm. Because they are smaller and generate from an intense charge density region of the corona, the energy is more concentrated.
Look again at the image of a solar coronal loop and see there is a smaller loop of higher intensity. This is the effect of an embedded harmonic repetition; and that is what a tornado is to the storm it’s born from. But, as always it’s more complicated than that. We’ll delve deeper into tornadoes next to complete the picture.