Brian Tinsley

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Brian Tinsley
Residence United States
Fields Physics, Aeronomy
Alma mater University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Brian Tinsley is a physicist who for more than 50 years has been actively researching Aeronomy. He has been a Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at Dallas since 1976 and has served many national and international scientific organizations. He obtained his PhD from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand in November, 1963, for research on optical emissions from the upper atmosphere (airglow and aurorae). With his wife, Beatrice Tinsley, he came to Dallas to work at the newly formed Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, which became the University of Texas at Dallas in 1969. Beatrice obtained a Ph.D. in astrophysics at the University of Texas at Austin, and became a prominent astrophysicist before she died in 1981, resulting in the University of Texas at Austin creating the endowed professorship that bears her name.

During his time at the NSF in the late 1980s he began researching the effects of changes in the sun on weather, climate change, and global warming on the decadal and century timescale. He has been author of more than 40 papers. He has proposed a mechanism in which the link to the atmosphere is the solar wind (space weather) (as opposed to changes in solar brightness).[1]

He formed the hypothesis that the Jz effects are due to electrical charge deposited on droplets and aerosol particles (notably condensation nuclei and ice-forming nuclei in clouds) that significantly affects scavenging processes and the concentrations of the nuclei.[2] The consequences of this include changes in cloud cover and rates of precipitation, and changes in atmospheric dynamics and the jet streams, as has been observed.

Dr. Tinsley and Dr. Burns of the Australian Antarctic Research Division and Dr. Tinsley’s graduate student Leo Hebert, have shown that there are clear correlations between the electric current output of the internal atmospheric generators (thunderstorms) in the global electric circuit and surface pressure at both Antarctic and Arctic sites, fully consistent with the externally forced changes.[3] Thus the work has led to the discovery of a completely unexpected process in meteorology that has implications for climate change. That is that the internal generation of atmospheric electricity, mostly in the tropical regions, affects clouds and meteorological processes all over the globe, and because this current generation changes on daily, seasonal, and longer timescales (notably with global warming) it is an additional input to weather and climate on those timescales that has not been included in current global climate change models. Also, the solar-induced changes have yet to be included, and both of these would modify the current predictions of global warming due to human activities.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Apparent Tropospheric Response to Mev-Gev Particle-Flux Variations - A Connection via Electrofreezing of Supercooled Water in High-Level Clouds, Tinsley BA; Deen GW, Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, Volume 96, Issue D12, Pages 22283-22296, doi:10.1029/91JD02473, 1991. Paper cited 141 times as of Jan 3, 2011.
  2. ^ Correlations of Atmospheric Dynamics With Solar-Activity Evidence for a Connection via the Solar-Wind, Atmospheric Electricity, And Cloud Microphysics, Tinsley BA; Heelis RA, Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, Volume 98, Issue D6, Pages 10375-10384, doi:10.1029/93JD00627, JUN 20 1993. Paper cited 100 times as of Jan 3, 2011.
  3. ^ Influence of solar wind on the global electric circuit, and inferred effects on cloud microphysics, temperature, and dynamics in the troposphere, Tinsley BA, Conference: Workshop of the ISSI on Solar Variability and Climate, INT SPACE SCI INST, BERN, SWITZERLAND, JUN 28-JUL 02, 1999, SPACE SCIENCE REVIEWS, Volume 94, Issue 1-2, Pages 231-258, doi:10.1023/A:1026775408875, Published: NOV 2000. Paper cited 131 times as of Jan 3, 2011.