Atmospheric noise is radio noise caused by natural atmospheric processes, primarily lightning discharges in thunderstorms. On a worldwide scale, eight million lightning discharges occur per day – about 100 lightning flashes per second.
In 1925, AT&T Bell Laboratories started investigating the sources of noise in its transatlantic radio telephone service.
Karl Jansky, a 22 year old researcher, undertook the task. By 1930, a radio antenna for a wavelength of 14.6 meters was constructed in Holmdel, NJ, to measure the noise in all directions. Jansky recognized three sources of radio noise. The first (and strongest) source was local thunderstorms. The second source was weaker noise from more distant thunderstorms. The third source was a still weaker hiss that turned out to be galactic noise from the center of the Milky Way. Jansky's research made him the father of radio astronomy.
Atmospheric noise is radio noise caused by natural atmospheric processes, primarily lightning discharges in thunderstorms. It is mainly caused by cloud-to-ground flashes as the current is much stronger than for cloud-to-cloud flashes. On a worldwide scale, eight million lightning flashes occur daily. This is about 100 lightning flashes per second.
The sum of all these lightning flashes results in atmospheric noise. It can be observed with a radio receiver in the form of a combination of white noise (coming from distant thunderstorms) and impulse noise (coming from a near thunderstorm). The power-sum varies with seasons and nearness of thunderstorm centers.
Although lightning has a broad-spectrum emission, its noise power increases with decreasing frequency. Therefore, at very low frequency and low frequency, atmospheric noise often dominates, while at high frequency, man-made noise dominates in rural areas.
From 1960s to 1980s, a worldwide effort was made to measure the atmospheric noise and variations. Results have been documented in CCIR Report 322. CCIR 322 provided seasonal world maps showing the expected values of the atmospheric noise figure Fa at 1 MHz during four hour blocks of the day. Another set of charts relates the Fa at 1 MHz to other frequencies. CCIR Report 322 has been superseded by ITU P.372 publication.
 Random number generation
 See also
- Singh 2005, pp. 402–408
- Singh 2005, pp. 404–405
- Singh 2005, p. 406
- Sample of atmospheric noise http://www.ycars.org/EFRA/audio%20files/atmospheric%20noise.mp3
- International Radio Consultative Committee (1968), Characteristics and Applications of Atmospheric Radio Noise Data, Geneva: International Telecommunications Union, CCIR Report 322-3; first CCIR Report 322 was 1963; revised; second is ISBN 92-61-01741-X.
- Lawrence, D. C. (June 1995), CCIR Report 322 Noise Variation Parameters, San Diego, CA: Naval Command, Control and Ocean Surveillance Center, RDT&E Division, NRaD Technical Document 2813; also DTIC
- ITU, Recommendation P.372: Radio Noise http://www.itu.int/rec/R-REC-P.372/en
- Haahr, Mads, Introduction to Randomness and Random Numbers, random.org, retrieved November 14, 2011, self-published.
- Singh, Simon (2005), Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe, Harper Perrennial, ISBN 978-0-00-716221-5
- Spaulding, Arthur D.; Washburn, James S. Washburn (April, 1985), Atmospheric Radio Noise: Worldwide Levels and Other Characteristics, NTIA Report TR-85-173, Boulder, CO: U. S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications & Information Administration, Institute for Telecommunications Sciences