Assessing the Parameterization of Nitric Oxide Emissions By Lightning in a Chemical Transport Model with Nitric Acid Columns from the IASI Satellite Instrument

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 2:40 PM
Matthew Cooper1, Randall Martin1, Catherine Wespes2, Pierre-Francois Coheur3, Cathy Clerbaux4 and Lee T Murray5, (1)Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada, (2)NCAR, Boulder, CO, United States, (3)Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium, (4)LATMOS Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales, Paris Cedex 05, France, (5)NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, United States
Nitrogen oxides (NOx ≡ NO + NO2) in the free troposphere largely control the production of ozone (O3), an important greenhouse gas and atmospheric oxidant. As HNO3 is the dominant sink of tropospheric NOx, improved understanding of its production and loss mechanisms can help to better constrain NOx emissions, and in turn improve understanding of ozone production and its effect on climate. However, this understanding is inhibited by the scarcity of direct measurements of free tropospheric HNO3, particularly in the tropics. We interpret tropical tropospheric nitric acid columns from the IASI satellite instrument with a global chemical transport model (GEOS-Chem). Overall GEOS-Chem generally agrees with IASI, however we find that the simulation underestimates IASI nitric acid over Southeast Asia by a factor of two. The bias is confirmed by comparing the GEOS-Chem simulation with additional satellite (HIRDLS, ACE-FTS) and aircraft (PEM-Tropics A and PEM-West B) observations of the middle and upper troposphere. We show that this bias can be explained by the parameterization of lightning NOx emissions, primarily from the misrepresentation of concentrated subgrid lightning NOx plumes. We tested a subgrid lightning plume parameterization and found that an additional 0.5 Tg N with an ozone production efficiency of 15 mol/mol would reduce the regional nitric acid bias from 92% to 6% without perturbing the rest of the tropics. Other sensitivity studies such as modified NOx yield per flash, increased altitude of lightning NOx emissions, or changes to convective mass flux or wet deposition of nitric acid required unrealistic changes to reduce the bias. This work demonstrates the importance of a comprehensive lightning parameterization to constraining NOx emissions.