Precipitation modification by ionization

R. Giles Harrison, Keri Nicoll, Maarten Ambaum, Karen L Aplin, Michael Lockwood

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Rainfall is hypothesised to be influenced by droplet charge, which is related to the global circuit current flowing through clouds. This is tested through examining a major global circuit current increase following release of artificial radioactivity. Significant changes occurred in daily rainfall distribution in the Shetland Islands, away from pollution. Daily rainfall changed by 24%, and local cloud optically thickened, within the nuclear weapons test period. This supports expectations of electrically induced microphysical changes in liquid water clouds from additional ionisation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number198701
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number19
Early online date13 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020


  • atmospheric electricity
  • radioactivity
  • nuclear explosion
  • geoengineering

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