Significance of transient luminous events to neutral chemistry: Experimental measurements



[1] For many years it has been suggested that transient luminous events (TLE) occurring over thunderstorms may produce significant modifications to neutral atmospheric chemistry. Some have speculated that large ionisation increases from red sprites, one type of TLE, could result in enhancements of odd nitrogen. In this study we make use of nighttime NO2 observations by the GOMOS instrument to test whether TLE are producing significant NOx enhancements in the middle atmosphere on a regional scale. Comparing regional variations of NO2 with 2–3 order of magnitude variations in lightning activity, we show that there is no significant impact of red sprites, giant jets or blue jets upon NOx levels in the stratosphere and mesosphere (20–70 km), within the detection levels of the instrument. While individual TLE may cause a local variation in NOx, these do not appear to be significant on regional scales (or beyond).