Second Conference on Meteorological Applications of Lightning Data


Improving lightning NOx parameterizations for global chemical transport models

Kenneth E. Pickering, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD; and L. Ott, D. Allen, A. DeCaria, G. Stenchikov, and W. K. Tao

Parameterization of lightning NOx in global chemical transport models requires a method to specify the temporal and geographic distribution of flash rates, an estimate of NO production per flash, and a method to specify the effective vertical distribution of NO production. Flash rate parameterizations using the upward convective cloud mass flux have been developed and tested for several GCM and assimilated meteorological data sets. This parameterization and others involving the cloud-top height and convective precipitation provide a generally acceptable climatological distribution of flashes after normalization with satellite data. However, considerable improvement in terms of geographic and temporal variability may be achieved in the future using cloud microphysics data available from next-generation GCMs.

Cloud-resolving case-study simulations of convective transport and lightning NO production have yielded results which are directly applicable to the NO production per flash and the vertical NO distribution portions of the global model lightning parameterizations. In this work we have used cloud-resolving models (the Goddard Cumulus Ensemble Model (GCE) and MM5) to drive an off-line cloud-scale chemical transport model (CSCTM). The CSCTM, in conjunction with aircraft measurements of NOx in thunderstorms and ground-based lightning observations, has been used to constrain the amount of NO produced per flash. Observed lightning flash rates have been incorporated into the CSCTM, and several scenarios of NO production per intracloud (IC) and per cloud-to-ground (CG) flash have been tested in each of several case study storms. The resulting NOx mixing ratios are compared with aircraft measurements taken within the storm (typically the anvil region) to determine the most likely NO production scenario. The range of values of NO production per flash (or per meter of lightning channel length) that have been deduced from the model will be shown and compared with values of production in the literature that have been deduced from observed NO spikes and from anvil flux calculations. Results show that on a per flash basis, IC flashes are nearly as productive of NO as CG flashes. Estimates of mean NO production per flash vary by a factor of three from one simulated storm to another. Vertical profiles of lightning NOx mass at the end of the 3-D storm simulations have been summarized to yield suggested profiles for use in global models. These profiles show a larger percentage of the total lightning NOx mass in the free troposphere than those suggested by Pickering et al. (1998).


Session 5, Observational Fusion of Lightning Data in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences II
Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 1:45 PM-3:00 PM, A307

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