Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics

Do Schumann resonance frequencies depend on altitude?

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Abstract

[1] Schumann resonance frequencies are the resonance frequencies for an electromagnetic field inside the natural conducting cavity formed by the Earth's surface and its ionosphere. The spectrum peaks for the total electromagnetic energy stored inside the cavity define a unique value for each Schumann resonance. Because of the impossibility of measuring the total energy stored in the atmosphere, the experimental determination of Schumann resonances is carried out by a local measurement of the magnetic or electric field spectrum. However, peak frequencies in the amplitude of the electromagnetic field Fourier spectrum of a lightning discharge excited atmosphere may depend on height because this field depends on the atmosphere conductivity and this physical magnitude varies with height. Therefore it is reasonable to expect a slight shift between the peaks corresponding to the electric or magnetic field spectrum at a given height and those obtained by considering the total energy stored. In this paper the Earth's electromagnetic cavity is numerically modeled by using the transmission line matrix (TLM) numerical method. The altitude profile of the magnetic field spectrum remains constant from ground to 70-km height; however, a decay between 1.5 and 4 Hz is observed for heights between 70 and 100 km, which represents a medium reduction of 10%.

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