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Charging Effect on the 80–200 nm Size Atmospheric Aerosols during a Lightning Event

Category: Technical Note

Volume: 17 | Issue: 10 | Pages: 2624-2630
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2017.05.0178
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Hong-Ku Lee1, Kang-Ho Ahn 2

  • 1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Hanyang University, Seoul 04763, Korea
  • 2 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Hanyang University, Ansan 15588, Korea


We monitored atmospheric charged particles during a thunderstorm event.
When a thunderstorm passed, the aerosol charging balance was strongly perturbed.
Thunderstorm clouds have a strong effect on the atmospheric aerosol charging.
Particle charge polarity near the ground is dependent on CG lightning polarity.


Atmospheric aerosol charging is caused mainly by cosmic rays and/or natural radioactive material decay. Because the ionization process generates well-balanced ion pairs, positive and negative ions in the air are at almost the same concentrations. The atmospheric aerosol electrical charge is therefore usually neutral. We measured the particle charge polarity distribution in the atmosphere during a lightning event at ground level. We found that the 80–200 nm particle charge balance during a lightning event was skewed either to the positive or the negative. Furthermore, the particle charge polarity changed very rapidly (within a few minutes) from negative to positive or vice versa. There was also a two-fold higher charged particle fraction during a lightning period than a normal day. This increased charged particle fraction may decrease the total particle concentration in the atmosphere by deposition on raindrop surfaces.


Atmospheric particle charging Charging polarity reversal Lightning effect Charged cloud

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