University of Oulu

Tacza J, Nicoll KA, Macotela EL, Kubicki M, Odzimek A and Manninen J (2021) Measuring Global Signals in the Potential Gradient at High Latitude Sites. Front. Earth Sci. 8:614639. doi: 10.3389/feart.2020.614639

Measuring global signals in the potential gradient at high latitude sites

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Author: Tacza, José1,2; Nicoll, Keri A.3,4; Macotela, Edith L.5,6;
Organizations: 1Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
2Center of Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics Mackenzie, Engineering School, Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Sao Paulo, Brazil
3Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading,United Kingdom
4Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering,University ofBath, Bath,United Kingdom
5Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
6Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics, University of Rostock, Kuhlungsborn, Germany
7Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Sodankyla, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-03-04


Previous research has shown that the study of the global electrical circuit can be relevant to climate change studies, and this can be done through measurements of the potential gradient near the surface in fair weather conditions. However, potential gradient measurements can be highly variable due to different local effects (e.g., pollution, convective processes). In order to try to minimize these effects, potential gradient measurements can be performed at remote locations where anthropogenic influences are small. In this work we present potential gradient measurements from five stations at high latitudes in the Southern and Northern Hemisphere. This is the first description of new datasets from Halley, Antarctica; and Sodankyla, Finland. The effect of the polar cap ionospheric potential can be significant at some polar stations and detailed analysis performed here demonstrates a negligible effect on the surface potential gradient at Halley and Sodankyla. New criteria for determination of fair weather conditions at snow covered sites is also reported, demonstrating that wind speeds as low as 3 m/s can loft snow particles, and that the fetch of the measurement site is an important factor in determining this threshold wind speed. Daily and seasonal analysis of the potential gradient in fair weather conditions shows great agreement with the “universal” Carnegie curve of the global electric circuit, particularly at Halley. This demonstrates that high latitude sites, at which the magnetic and solar influences can be present, can also provide globally representative measurement sites for study of the global electric circuit.

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Series: Frontiers in earth science
ISSN: 2296-6463
ISSN-E: 2296-6463
ISSN-L: 2296-6463
Volume: 8
Article number: 614639
DOI: 10.3389/feart.2020.614639
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 114 Physical sciences
111 Mathematics
115 Astronomy and space science
Funding: KN acknowledges an Independent Research Fellowship funded by the Natural Environment Research Council NERC (NE/L011514/1) and (NE/L011514/2). The Halley PG data was obtained in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey (with thanks to David Maxfield and Mervyn Freeman) through a NERC Collaborative Gearing Scheme grant, and archived through the GloCAEM project (NERC International Opportunities Fund grant NE/N013689/1). Ilya Usoskin from the University of Oulu, Thomas Ulich and his technical team at Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory were instrumental in obtaining the Sodankyla PG measurements. JT acknowledges the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange for funding of the Ulam Program scholarship agreement no PPN/ULM/2019/1/00328/U/00001. Observations at Polish Polar Station Hornsund were supported by SPUB grants from Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Poland. The observations at Arctowski Antarctic station of the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, have been financed by National Science Centre grant number NCN-2011/01/B/ST10/07118 (2011–2014) awarded to the Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences.
Copyright information: © 2021 Tacza, Nicoll, Macotela, Kubicki, Odzimek and Manninen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.