Open Access

Measurement of atmospheric air-earth current density from a tropical station using improvised Wilson’s plate antenna

Earth, Planets and Space200961:BF03353203

Received: 28 July 2008

Accepted: 23 March 2009

Published: 31 August 2009


We have developed an experimental set-up to measure the atmospheric air-earth current (conduction current). Data obtained with the continuous measurements of Wilson’s plate are used to study of air-earth current density, with the aim of gaining an understanding of the experimental set-up’s response to different meteorological conditions, including fair-weather days. This paper is a part of the on-going Global Electric Circuit (GEC) studies from Tirunelveli (8.7°N, 77.8°E), a measurement site in the tropical and southern tip of the Indian peninsula. Attempts have been made in past few years to obtain the global signature in this region with this sensor, but on most of the occasions it has been impossible to obtain the global signature during fair-weather days. The data used for February–April, 2007 have the well-defined nature of this global signature, which is in agreement with the well-established classical Carnegie curve of GEC. This paper also deals with very important observations made at sunrise and during those hours when fog existed. It is noted that the resistivity of the atmosphere increased significantly with the onset of fog and later decreased as the fog disappeared, based on the measured value of conduction current density when compared with the electric field measured by horizontal passive wire antenna. Also, during fair-weather conditions, conduction current and electric field variations are similar because the conductivity during this period is more or less constant at this site. Observations made during different meteorological conditions, such as different wind speeds, humidities, and temperatures, are also discussed.

Key words

Global electric circuitatmospheric electricityconduction current densityfair-weatherpassive antenna