, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 277-294

On the Role of Lightning NOx in the Formation of Tropospheric Ozone Plumes: A Global Model Perspective

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A series of ozone transects measured each year from 1987 to 1990 over thewestern Pacific and eastern Indian oceans between mid-November andmid-Decembershows a prominent ozone maximum reaching 50–80 ppbv between 5 and 10 kmin the 20° S–40° S latitude band. This maximum contrasts with ozonemixing ratios lower than20 ppbv measured at the same altitudes in equatorial regions. Analyses witha globalchemical transport model suggest that these elevated ozone values are part ofa large-scale tropospheric ozone plume extending from Africa to the western Pacific acrosstheIndian ocean. These plumes occur several months after the peak in biomassburninginfluence and during a period of high lightning activity in the SouthernHemispheretropical belt. The composition and geographical extent of these plumes aresimilar to theozone layers previously encountered during the biomass burning season in thisregion.Our model results suggest that production of nitrogen oxides from lightningstrokes sustains the NOx (= NO+NO2) levels and the ozonephotochemical productionrequired in the upper troposphere to form these persistent elevated ozonelayers emanating from biomass burning regions.