Articles | Volume 16, issue 9
Research article
13 May 2016
Research article |  | 13 May 2016

Modeling lightning-NOx chemistry on a sub-grid scale in a global chemical transport model

Alicia Gressent, Bastien Sauvage, Daniel Cariolle, Mathew Evans, Maud Leriche, Céline Mari, and Valérie Thouret

Abstract. For the first time, a plume-in-grid approach is implemented in a chemical transport model (CTM) to parameterize the effects of the nonlinear reactions occurring within high concentrated NOx plumes from lightning NOx emissions (LNOx) in the upper troposphere. It is characterized by a set of parameters including the plume lifetime, the effective reaction rate constant related to NOx–O3 chemical interactions, and the fractions of NOx conversion into HNO3 within the plume. Parameter estimates were made using the Dynamical Simple Model of Atmospheric Chemical Complexity (DSMACC) box model, simple plume dispersion simulations, and the 3-D Meso-NH (non-hydrostatic mesoscale atmospheric model). In order to assess the impact of the LNOx plume approach on the NOx and O3 distributions on a large scale, simulations for the year 2006 were performed using the GEOS-Chem global model with a horizontal resolution of 2° × 2.5°. The implementation of the LNOx parameterization implies an NOx and O3 decrease on a large scale over the region characterized by a strong lightning activity (up to 25 and 8 %, respectively, over central Africa in July) and a relative increase downwind of LNOx emissions (up to 18 and 2 % for NOx and O3, respectively, in July). The calculated variability in NOx and O3 mixing ratios around the mean value according to the known uncertainties in the parameter estimates is at a maximum over continental tropical regions with ΔNOx [−33.1, +29.7] ppt and ΔO3 [−1.56, +2.16] ppb, in January, and ΔNOx [−14.3, +21] ppt and ΔO3 [−1.18, +1.93] ppb, in July, mainly depending on the determination of the diffusion properties of the atmosphere and the initial NO mixing ratio injected by lightning. This approach allows us (i) to reproduce a more realistic lightning NOx chemistry leading to better NOx and O3 distributions on the large scale and (ii) to focus on other improvements to reduce remaining uncertainties from processes related to NOx chemistry in CTM.

Short summary
In chemical transport models, NOx emitted by lightning (LNOx) is instantaneously diluted into the grid. A plume-in-grid parameterization to account for the sub-grid chemistry of LNOx is presented. This approach was implemented into the GEOS-Chem model and leads to a relative increase of NOx and O3 (18 % and 2 %, respectively, in July) on a large scale downwind of lightning emissions and a relative decrease (25 % and 8 %, respectively, over central Africa in July) over the regions of emissions.
Final-revised paper