The impact of NOx emissions from lightning on the production of aviation-induced ozone

Arezoo Khodayari, Francis Vitt, Daniel Phoenix, Donald J. Wuebbles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to the non-linear nature of ozone production in the troposphere, ozone production as a function of aviation nitrogen oxide (NOx = NO + NO2) emissions varies based on the background NOx levels. Of the several different sources of background NOx in the atmosphere, NOx from lightning (LNOx) contributes a substantial amount of NOx to the upper troposphere and has an effect on the ozone production efficiency, even though the LNOx source still has significant uncertainty. In this study, CAM5, the atmospheric component of the Community Earth System Model (CESM), was used to study the effect of uncertainties in NOx emissions from lightning on the production of aviation-induced ozone. Three sensitivity studies were analyzed with varying LNOx values of 3.7, 5, and 7.4 TgN/yr, representing the best current range estimates for LNOx. Results show a decrease in the aviation-induced ozone production rate and radiative forcing (RF) as LNOx increases. This is tied to the decreased ozone production under NOx saturated conditions. The ozone production per unit of NOx emission from lightning ranges from 2.38 TgO3/TgN for the case with 3.7 TgN from lightning to 0.97 TgO3/TgN for the case with 7.4 TgN from lightning. Similarly, the O3 RF decreases from 43.9 mW/m2 for the 3.7 TgN/yr case to 34.3 mW/m2 for 7.4 TgN/yr case. Understanding the current sensitivity of aviation-induced ozone production to the LNOx strength is important for reducing the uncertainty in ozone production from aviation NOx emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-416
Number of pages7
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Aviation-induced ozone
  • lightning NOx

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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