Ozone production by corona discharges during a convective event in DISCOVER-AQ Houston

Alexander Kotsakis, Gary A. Morris, Barry Lefer, Wonbae Jeon, Anirban Roy, Ken Minschwaner, Anne M. Thompson, Yunsoo Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


An ozonesonde launched near electrically active convection in Houston, TX on 5 September 2013 during the NASA DISCOVER-AQ project measured a large enhancement of ozone throughout the troposphere. A separate ozonesonde was launched from Smith Point, TX (∼58 km southeast of the Houston site) at approximately the same time as the launch from Houston and did not measure that enhancement. Furthermore, ozone profiles for the descent of both sondes agreed well with the ascending Smith Point profile, suggesting a highly localized event in both space and time in which an anomalously large enhancement of 70–100 ppbv appeared in the ascending Houston ozonesonde data. Compared to literature values, such an enhancement appears to be the largest observed to date. Potential sources of the localized ozone enhancement such as entrainment of urban or biomass burning emissions, downward transport from the stratosphere, photochemical production from lightning NOx, and direct ozone production from corona discharges were investigated using model simulations. We conclude that the most likely explanation for the large ozone enhancement is direct ozone production by corona discharges. Integrating the enhancement seen in the Houston ozone profile and using the number of electrical discharges detected by the NLDN (or HLMA), we estimate a production of 2.48 × 1028 molecules of ozone per flash which falls within the range of previously recorded values (9.89 × 1026–9.82 × 1028 molecules of ozone per flash). Since there is currently no parameterization for the direct production of ozone from corona discharges we propose the implementation of an equation into a chemical transport model. Ultimately, additional work is needed to further understand the occurrence and impact of corona discharges on tropospheric chemistry on short and long timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-17
Number of pages5
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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