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Lightning and subvisible discharges produce molecules to clean the atmosphere!

The researchers have recently introduced a new concept of cleaning the atmosphere. Notably, they have labeled that the lightning and subvisible discharges produce some molecules, which further helps in refining the atmosphere. This is to say, the lightning bolts split aside the nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the atmosphere. This develops the reactive chemicals that affect greenhouse gases. A team of lightning scientists and atmospheric chemists have detected that lightning bolts and, peculiarly, the subvisible discharges are not visible with the cameras or with the naked eye. This is to say, they produce an extreme amount of the hydroxyl radical—OH—and hydroperoxyl radical—HO2.

William H. Brune, distinguished professor of meteorology at Penn State said, ” Initially, we looked at these huge OH and HO2 signals found in the clouds and asked, what is wrong with our instrument?”  Further, he stated that they all assumed there was noise in the instrument, so we removed the huge signals from the dataset and shelved them for later study. Significantly, the hydroxyl radical plays an important role in the atmosphere. This is all because the radical of hydroxyl commences the chemical reactions. Further, the molecules get smashed like the greenhouse gas methane. Notably, OH is the main driver of many compositional changes in the atmosphere.

Basically, in 2012,  this data was collected using an instrument on a plane flown above Colorado and Oklahoma. Thus, this helps in looking at the chemical changes that thunderstorms and lightning make to the atmosphere. However, a few years ago, Brune took the data off the shelf. Furthermore, he noticed that the signals were really hydroxyl and hydroperoxyl. Later on, they collaborated with a graduate student and research associate and worked along with them. Thus, they kept an eye if these signals could be produced by sparks and subvisible discharges in the laboratory. Finally, they did a reanalysis of the thunderstorms and lightning dataset.