Thunderstorms clean our air well
Most of us can do without the thunderstorms accompanied by lightning, thunder, and torrential rain, as some are frankly afraid of this weather phenomenon. They make an important contribution to cleaning up the atmosphere.
W.When there is lightning and thunder, many want to crawl under the covers and wait for it to be all over. No wonder, after all, voltages of up to 100 million volts can occur in the event of a lightning strike – life threatening! However, thunderstorms do a task that should not be underestimated, as a new analysis of old weather data from 2012 shows by meteorologists at Pennsylvania State University in the USA.
The results of their analyzes published in specialized journals.Science” And the “Advancing Earth and Space SciencesThis evidence has been published that thunderstorms have the potential to make a significant contribution to cleaning up Earth’s atmosphere. In doing so, they also contribute to climate protection – not only through lightning strikes visible to us, but also through invisible electrical air discharges. It’s amazing how scientists came to this: They used data from a research expedition from 2012, which had previously been considered unusable.
People were amazed at the extremely high levels of hydroxide and nitrogen oxide in the clouds, which the measuring instruments on the panel converted into noise signals, said William Brown, a professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, in one Press release explained:
We assumed that the device contains noise, so we removed the large signals from the dataset and suspended it for future studies.
The research team has now examined the thunderstorm data again
The readings came from a NASA plane that flew over Colorado and Oklahoma and measured the so-called anvil, the upper part of the thunderstorm. While re-evaluating the data, which is now more than eight years old, combined with data collected on Earth at the same time, it became surprising that lightning actually produced these large amounts of oxidizing agents.
Previous research projects have already shown that the nitrogen oxides and hydroxides produced by lightning strikes literally expel various greenhouse gases from the sky because the non-duplex electrons they contain are so energetic. This is how greenhouse gases like methane are broken down.
The new findings by a research team led by meteorologist William Bron show that lightning and thunder can do much more than that. So far, the research has been more concerned with what thunderstorms can do on Earth below.
There is now increased interest in weak electrical discharges during thunderstorms, which initially lead to lightning.
With the help of laboratory simulations based on measured values from 2012, the researchers hypothesized that both visible lightning strikes and invisible electrical charges in the air could generate very large amounts of hydroxides. Heaven is considered cleaners. At the same time, additional nitrogen oxides or toxic ozone cannot be detected in the air.
Are thunderstorms trying to cope with climate change?
As the world warms due to climate change, thunderstorms and lightning strikes are also likely to become more common. This, in turn, affects the balance of greenhouse gases in the air – perhaps much more than scientists previously thought. However, researchers cannot yet prove with absolute certainty how accurate and powerful electronic charges in the air are to clean the atmosphere.
To do this, they need additional data from all possible places in the world – especially from places where thunderstorms occur frequently, such as the tropics. However, current studies indicate that between 2 and 16 percent of the oxidation of the global atmosphere, that is, all chemicals emitted into the atmosphere, can be caused by thunderstorms. Since the substances released by lightning have a cleaning effect on the atmosphere in the first place, this could be an indication of how nature itself is trying to cope with climate change.