Effects of lightning NOx production during the 21 July European Lightning Nitrogen Oxides Project storm studied with a three-dimensional cloud-scale chemical transport model

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Abstract

[1] The 21 July 1998 thunderstorm observed during the European Lightning Nitrogen Oxides Project (EULINOX) project was simulated using the three-dimensional Goddard Cumulus Ensemble (GCE) model. The simulation successfully reproduced a number of observed storm features including the splitting of the original cell into a southern cell which developed supercell characteristics and a northern cell which became multicellular. Output from the GCE simulation was used to drive an offline cloud-scale chemical transport model which calculates tracer transport and includes a parameterization of lightning NOx production which uses observed flash rates as input. Estimates of lightning NOx production were deduced by assuming various values of production per intracloud and production per cloud-to-ground flash and comparing the results with in-cloud aircraft observations. The assumption that both types of flashes produce 360 moles of NO per flash on average compared most favorably with column mass and probability distribution functions calculated from observations. This assumed production per flash corresponds to a global annual lightning NOx source of 7 Tg N yr−1. Chemical reactions were included in the model to evaluate the impact of lightning NOx on ozone. During the storm, the inclusion of lightning NOx in the model results in a small loss of ozone (on average less than 4 ppbv) at all model levels. Simulations of the chemical environment in the 24 hours following the storm show on average a small increase in the net production of ozone at most levels resulting from lightning NOx, maximizing at approximately 5 ppbv day−1 at 5.5 km. Between 8 and 10.5 km, lightning NOx causes decreased net ozone production.

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