Global and regional chemical influence of sprites: reconciling modelling results and measurements

Pérez-Invernón, Francisco J.; Gordillo-Vázquez, Francisco J.; Malagón-Romero, Alejandro; Jöckel, Patrick

Mesospheric electrical discharges, known as sprites and formed by fast-propagating streamers, have been shown to create localized enhancements of atmospheric constituents such as N, O, NOinline-formulax, Ninline-formula2O, and HOinline-formulax, as indicated by both modelling results and space-based measurements. In this study, we incorporate the occurrence rate of sprites into a chemistry–climate model using meteorological parameters as a proxy. Additionally, we introduce the injection of chemical species by sprites into the model based on electrodynamical modelling of individual sprite streamers and observations from space.

Our modelling results show a good agreement between the simulated sprite distribution and observed data on a global scale. While the global influence of sprites on the atmospheric chemistry is found to be negligible, our findings reveal their measurable chemical influence at the regional scale, particularly for the concentration of HNOinline-formula3 and HNOinline-formula4 within the mesosphere. The simulations also suggest that sprites could be responsible for the observed NOinline-formula2 anomalies at an altitude of 52 km above thunderstorms, as reported by MIPAS. Finally, a projected simulation reveals that the occurrence rate of sprites could increase at a rate of 14 % per 1 K rise in the global temperature.

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Pérez-Invernón, Francisco J. / Gordillo-Vázquez, Francisco J. / Malagón-Romero, Alejandro / et al: Global and regional chemical influence of sprites: reconciling modelling results and measurements. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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