Hydroclimatology and Solar Explorations

Climate & Weather Representations, Ozone in the Atmosphere, Science and Ethics

Global Lightning and Ozone (and H20)

I am still disappointed in the atmospheric research communities’ studied disregard of the relation between atmospheric moisture and ozone. I’ve written quite a few posts already, which any can quickly examine to understand that when moisture is in the air, ozone is not. My featured animation shows atmospheric humidity and atmospheric ozone for a portion of the planet over the month of January, 1979 (from the ECMWF resource). I like this superposition because the ozone appears to follow the humidity pattern but lies somewhat south. I’d guess that there was a great deal of lightning in all of that humid air, and the ozone that emerged drifted with the winds to the south and then entered the prevailing zonal circulation.

Yes, there are very important distinctions which I’m about to get into. But across the globe, no matter how you slice the atmosphere, this absence of ozone when humidity is high, and the relative abundance of ozone when the humidity is low, is so plain it cannot possibly be ignored. And yet I must be wrong because this is consistently and widely ignored. I’ve even asked researchers who study both, why they don’t recognize this. But all I get is crickets.

Groupthinking researchers and academics can choose to ignore my concern, because after all, they get more attention when we are scared and left to feel responsible because of our use of consumer products. But sooner or later we will all wake up. I’m certain of it, because every time I return to the data from any resource, I can see the same segregation between water and ozone play out. The featured image was for a random middle to lower atmospheric level for an early satellite era month. Here’s another random example for January 2014, for the full atmospheric thickness.

click to animate these two frames to see that where water prevails, ozone retreats

As I noted, tropical lightning appears to account for some of the ozone. Here is a NASA lightning map which reflects the same tropical patterns where lightning is most abundant.

Next a very interesting schematic from Roux et al. (2020), which also appears to prove my point. These researchers describe instrumented flights through typhoons/cyclones and then deconstruct the resulting atmospheric chemistry. Yet they don’t appear to recognize that the humid ocean side of their schematic may have a causal relation to the lower ozone concentrations there (see lower right of the image “Low O3 and..”), in spite of the lightning.

These authors do recognize that “The high ozone mixing ratios are generally correlated with potential vorticity and anti-correlated with relative humidity” (my bold), but in their view this only suggests a “stratospheric origin” for the ozone. I.e. the stratosphere is dehydrated, and that’s where most of the ozone is attributed to be.

It’s interesting to consider and I’m not one to disagree. I can see related mixing of winds in the final figures of this post. And there are more interesting pics I’ll save for later posts. But in any case, every researcher knows that lightning makes ozone. Many limbs of industrial ozone production depend on this fact of nature. And that industry is also well aware that a humid environment makes ozone production impossible. It would be like pouring a bucket of water over the Wicked Witch of the West.

I’m reproducing the two frames of my featured animation with some additional annotation to reinforce this discussion. One can get confused by the strobing switch between the two frames. Here I clarify that the red zones reflect both the highest humidity and the highest ozone.

Moreover, this band of ozone is likely the same band which eventually forms a ring around the world, above the footprint of the Southern Ocean.

One might even infer that lightning is the source of a significant quantity of ozone in the upper and lower atmospheres. After all, the Roux et al (2020) study allows for ozone to move up into the stratosphere as well as down from it. And my earlier post explores the actual satellite data which allows for the same. In that post I examined several profiles through the thickness of the atmosphere and tracked the flow of air up and down. Where the air goes, so does the ozone (at least until it meets humidity).

Air can flow up and down between the troposphere and the stratosphere, as this transect along 75N demonstrates. please cite

Typically while they avoid Water, the ozone scientists also disregard lightning as a significant source of any ozone. Rather they segregate our atmosphere into two sources. Solar UV as the source for ozone in the upper atmosphere, and smog is the source for the lower atmosphere.

I believe many of these processes could be easily sorted out and the mysteries of the Ozone Hole could be diminished miraculously, once the academics and experts acknowledge water’s manifold relations to ozone.

Bonus. Here is a sample 2 frame animation covering the full ring of longitude around the planet for January and February of that year.

click for 2 frame animation (January and February 1979 along 75N) please cite

If you’d like an animation of the full twelve months, just visit the tip jar then email me.

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