19 Oct 2023
 | 19 Oct 2023

Gobal and regional chemical influence of sprites: Reconciling modeling results and measurements

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

Abstract. Mesospheric electrical discharges, known as sprites, formed by fast-propagating streamers, have been shown to create localized enhancements of atmospheric constituents such as N, O, NOx, N2O, and HOx, as indicated by both, modeling 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 modeling of individual sprite streamers and observations from space.

Our modeling 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 regional scale, particularly for the concentration of HNO3 and HNO4 within the mesosphere. The simulations also suggest that sprites could be responsible for the observed NO2 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.

Francisco J. Pérez-Invernón et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2403', Anonymous Referee #1, 11 Nov 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2403', Anonymous Referee #2, 16 Nov 2023

Francisco J. Pérez-Invernón et al.

Data sets

Monthly averaged sprite and chemical data extracted from EMAC simulations including sprites (T42L90MA resolution) F. J. Pérez-Invernón, F. J. Gordillo-Vázquez, A. Malagón-Romero, and P. Jöckel

Francisco J. Pérez-Invernón et al.


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Short summary
Sprites are electrical discharges occurring in the upper atmosphere. Recent modeling and observational data suggest that they may have a measurable impact on atmospheric chemistry. In this study, we incorporate both the occurrence rate of sprites and their production of chemical species into a chemistry-climate model. While our results indicate that sprites have a minimal global influence on atmospheric chemistry, they underscore their noteworthy importance at a regional scale.