On transient electric potential variations in a standing tree and atmospheric electricity

  • Le Mouël J
  • Gibert D
  • Poirier J
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Transient electric potential variations have been observed in a standing poplar tree equipped with electrodes up to a height of 10.5 m. The simultaneous signals at all electrodes have the same shape and their amplitude grows linearly with height, up to values of 10 to 50 mV. This corresponds to an electric current through the tree of the order of a few μA. The frequency of appearance of the signals does not depend on the season or on the time of the day. It is suggested that the potential variations are caused by the passage of thunderstorm clouds, of little activity, whose electrically charged base could induce charges in the ground and give rise to a current flowing through the tree and discharging at its top by point discharge. © 2010.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Atmospheric electricity
  • Clouds
  • Electric potential
  • Trees

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  • Jean Louis Le Mouël

  • Dominique Gibert

  • Jean Paul Poirier

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