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Exploring the Production of NOx by Lightning and Its Impact on Tropospheric OzoneOur quantitative understanding of free tropospheric (FT) chemistry is quite poor. State-of-the-art regional air quality models (e.g., US EPA's CMAQ) perform very poorly in simulating FT chemistry, with Uniform ozone around 70 ppb throughout the FT in summer, while ozonesonde data show much higher levels of ozone and much spatial-temporal structure. Such models completely neglect lightning-NOx (LNOx) emissions (the most significant source of NOx in the FT), and also contain large uncertainties in the specifications of intercontinental transport, stratosphere-troposphere exchange (STE) and PBLFT exchange (PFTE). Global air chemistry models include LNOx, but in very crude fashion, with the frequency and distribution of lightning being based on modeled cloud parameters (hence large uncertainty), lightning energetics being assumed to be constant for all flashes (literature value, while in reality there is at least a two-orders of magnitude variability from flash-to-flash), and the production of NOx in the surrounding heated air, per Joule of heating, being assumed to be constant also (literature value, while in fact it is a non-linear function of the dissipated heat and local air density, p). This situation is commonly blamed on paucity of pertinent observational data, but for the USA, there is now a wealth of surface- and satellite-based data of lightning available to permit much improved observation-based estimation of LNOx emissions. In the FT, such NOx has a long residence time, and also the ozone production efficiency from NOx there is considerably higher than in the PBL. It is, therefore, of critical importance in FT chemistry. This paper will describe the approach and data products of an ongoing NSSTC project aimed at a much-improved quantification of not only LNOx production on the scale of continental USA based on local and regional lightning observations, but also of intercontinental transport, STE and PFTE, all in upgraded simulations of tropospheric transport and chemistry. In our approach for LNOx, (a) we utilize continuous observed lightning information from the NLDN ground network and from satellite imagers (OTD and LIS) to quantify lightning frequency and distribution at the spatial-temporal scales of models such as CMAQ; (b) we develop new methodologies to quantify flash-specific lightning energy dissipation as heat (epsilon) using data from the research-grade lightning measurement facility at NASA-KSC, and to parameterize epsilon based on regional lightning monitoring data (ground- and satellite-based); and, (c) we develop a new parameterization of NOx production as a function of epsilon and rho. Based on such observation-based information, we are working to develop a gridded, episodic LNOx emissions inventory for the USA for use in models like CMAQ. We are also developing approaches for global(MOZART)- regional(CMAQ) chemistry coupling to improve intercontinental transport and STE. Finally, we are developing new methodologies for assimilation of satellite-observed (GOES) clouds into meteorological modeling (MM5), to improve PFTE and to optimize co-location of cloud convection and observed lightning. We will incorporate these improvements in CMAQ simulations over the USA to better understand FT processes and chemistry, and its impact on ground-level ozone.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Gillani, Noor (National Space Science and Technology Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Koshak, William (National Space Science and Technology Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Biazar, Arastoo (National Space Science and Technology Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Doty, Kevin (National Space Science and Technology Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Mahon, Robert (National Space Science and Technology Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Newchurch, Michael (National Space Science and Technology Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Byun, Daewon (Houston Univ. TX, United States)
Emmons, Louisa (National Center for Atmospheric Research Boulder, CO, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2006
Subject Category
Meteorology and Climatology
Meeting Information
CASA Science Symposium on Nitrogen(Lake Louise)
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