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In order to determine the different parameters necessary for assessing the interfering effect of atmospheric noise to short-wave broadcasting, a systematic physical analysis is made of how the atmospheric noise impulse, as heard by the ear, arises and how it causes annoyance to the listener of broadcast programs. Hence, criteria are developed both for measurement and estimation of atmospheric noise. The paper thus provides the necessary additional physical background for the author's papers on "Measurement of atmospheric noise interference to broadcasting" and "Noise power radiated by tropical thunderstorms" but leaves the final conclusions and results of the two papers unchanged. Although the paper is thus restricted in scope, it is believed that the general principles emerging from the discussion should be of wider application.