Effects of the March 2015 solar eclipse on near-surface atmospheric electricity.Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci 2016; 374(2077)PT
Measurements of atmospheric electrical and standard meteorological parameters were made at coastal and inland sites in southern England during the 20 March 2015 partial solar eclipse. Clear evidence of a reduction in air temperature resulting from the eclipse was found at both locations, despite one of them being overcast during the entire eclipse. The reduction in temperature was expected to affect the near-surface electric field (potential gradient (PG)) through a reduction in turbulent transfer of space charge. No such effect could be unambiguously confirmed, however, with variability in PG and air-Earth current during the eclipse being comparable to pre- and post-eclipse conditions. The already low solar radiation for this latitude, season and time of day was likely to have contributed to the reduced effect of the eclipse on atmospheric electricity through boundary layer stability. The absence of a reduction in mean PG shortly after time of maximum solar obscuration, as observed during eclipses at lower geomagnetic latitude, implied that there was no significant change in atmospheric ionization from cosmic rays above background variability. This finding was suggested to be due to the relative importance of cosmic rays of solar and galactic origin at geomagnetic mid-latitudes.This article is part of the themed issue 'Atmospheric effects of solar eclipses stimulated by the 2015 UK eclipse'.