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Journal Article

HO2 Generation Above Sprite-Producing Thunderstorms Derived from Low-Noise SMILES Observation Spectra


Larsson,  Richard
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Yamada, T., Sato, T. O., Adachi, T., Winkler, H., Kuribayashi, K., Larsson, R., et al. (2020). HO2 Generation Above Sprite-Producing Thunderstorms Derived from Low-Noise SMILES Observation Spectra. Geophysical Research Letters, 47(3): e60090. doi:10.1029/2019GL085529.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-F553-8
No direct observational evidence of sprite-produced active radicals has been presented owing to the difficulty of observing a small event area in the nighttime mesosphere, whereas sprite chemical models have indicated that sprite discharge locally affects the atmospheric composition. We present the first observational evidence of a HO2 production above sprite-producing thunderstorms from the coincidence of temporal-spatial observations of HO2 spectra, sprite events, and thunderstorms by two space instruments, a submillimeter-wave limb spectrometer and ultraviolet/visible Imager and a ground-based very low frequency radiation lightning detection network. A total of three areas was identified with enhanced HO2 levels of approximately 10^25 molecules. A chemical sprite model indicates an increase in HO2 in the considered altitude region; however, the predicted production due to a single sprite event is smaller than the observed enhancement. Our observational results suggest that sprites potentially contribute 1% of nighttime background HO2 generation at altitudes of 75–80 km globally.