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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-216
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-216
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 09 Apr 2019

Submitted as: research article | 09 Apr 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Lightning NO2 simulation over the Contiguous US and its effects on satellite NO2 retrievals

Qindan Zhu1, Joshua L. Laughner2,a, and Ronald C. Cohen1,2 Qindan Zhu et al.
  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720
  • 2Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720
  • anow at: Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125

Abstract. Lightning is an important NOx source representing ~ 10 % of the global source of odd N and a much larger percentage in the upper troposphere. The poor understanding of spatial and temporal patterns of lightning contributes to a large uncertainty in understanding upper tropospheric chemistry. We implement a lightning parameterization using the product of convective available potential energy (CAPE) and convective precipitation rate (PR) into Weather Research and Forecasting-Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model for North America. We show that the CAPE-PR parameterization with a regional scaling factor of 0.5 in the southeastern US yields an improved representation of lightning flashes in WRF when comparing against flash density from the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network. Compared to the cloud top height (CTH) lightning parameterization used in WRF-Chem, simulated NO2 profiles using the CAPE-PR parameterization exhibit better agreement with aircraft observations in the middle and upper troposphere. While the lightning NOx production rate is 500 mol NO flash−1, using the a priori NO2 profile generated by the simulation with the CAPE-PR parameterization reduces the air mass factor for NO2 retrievals by 16 % on average in the southeastern US on the late spring and early summer; yielding an overall 20 % enhancement of the NO2 vertical column density compared to simulations using the CTH lightning parameterization.

Qindan Zhu et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Qindan Zhu et al.
Data sets

CohenBerkeleyLab/WRF-Chem-R2SMH: WRF-Chem with CAPE-PR lightning parameterization J. Laughner and Q. Zhu https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2585381

Berkeley High Resolution (BEHR) OMI NO2 v3.0C - Gridded pixels, daily profiles Q. Zhu, J. Laughner, and R. Cohen https://doi.org/10.6078/D16X1T

Berkeley High Resolution (BEHR) OMI NO2 v3.0C - Native pixels, daily profiles Q. Zhu, J. Laughner, and R. Cohen https://doi.org/10.6078/D1BM2B

Qindan Zhu et al.
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Latest update: 21 Aug 2019
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Short summary
Lightning NOx represents > 80 % of the NOx source in the upper troposphere.Despite its importance, lightning NOx is poorly understood. This work improves model performance in representing lighting NOx, and reduces the uncertainty in satellite NO2 retrievals caused by poor representation of lightning NOx emission in a priori assumptions.
Lightning NOx represents  80 % of the NOx source in the upper troposphere.Despite its...
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