Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study shows lightning adds to ozone level

20.03.2003


Lightning may be Mother Nature’s greatest show on Earth, but scientists now know it can produce significant amounts of ozone and other gases that affect air chemistry.


Lightning Has a Big Effect on Regional Pollution

Summertime lightning over the United States increases regional pollution by significant amounts and also over a large portion of the northern hemisphere, surpassing those by human activities. CREDIT: Photograph by M. Garay


The Microlab Satellite and the OTD Lightning Detector

The Optical Transient Detector (OTD), aboard the Microlab satellite, is the world’s first space-based sensor capable of detecting and locating lightning events in the daytime as well as during the nighttime with high detection efficiency. It was designed and built at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).



Researcher Renyi Zhang of Texas A&M University helped lead a study on the impact of lightning, and the results are surprising: Lightning can be responsible for as much as 90 percent of the nitrogen oxides in the summer and at the same time increase ozone levels as much as 30 percent in the free troposphere, the area that extends 3-8 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The amount of ozone and nitrogen oxides that lightning creates is greater than those created by human activities in that level of the atmosphere, the study shows.


Zhang’s research is published in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the study was supported by NASA and the Texas Air Research Center.

Each year, about 77 million lightning bolts strike the United States, and worldwide lightning flashes occur about 60 times per second. Zhang and his colleague, Xuexi Tie of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, have confirmed increased levels of nitrogen oxides following lightning strikes. Their study analyzed lightning strikes over a 5-year period in the United States.

"Ironically, over the U.S., lightning accounts for only about 5 percent of the total nitrogen oxide annual emissions and about 14 percent of the total emissions in July," Zhang explains.

"The largest source of nitrogen oxides over the U.S. is the burning of fossil fuels, but such a small emission by lightning plays a huge role in influencing regional air chemistry. The reason is that nitrogen oxides from fossil fuels burning is released close to the Earth’s surface and is consumed rapidly by chemical reactions before being transported upward. But lightning directly releases nitrogen oxides throughout the entire troposphere, or as high as eight miles," Zhang adds.

In addition, Zhang says there is strong evidence that urban air pollution may contribute to more lightning, creating more ozone over the United States. Zhang says nitrogen oxides can lead to the formation of ozone and smog, and these can greatly increase chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

Ozone can also affect chemical activities in the atmosphere and even affect climate changes around the world by acting as a greenhouse gas.

Zhang believes the results of his study show both good and bad news.

"The good news is that lightning makes more oxidants, which do help to clean up the atmosphere," he says.

"The bad news is that lightning also generates more ozone, which is not good for the environment. We can’t control lightning, but we now know we can learn a lot about it and what it creates."

Renyi Zhang | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle
22.06.2018 | Technical University of Denmark

nachricht Polar ice may be softer than we thought
22.06.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>