HO 2 Generation Above Sprite-Producing Thunderstorms Derived from Low-Noise SMILES Observation Spectra

T. Yamada, T. O. Sato, T. Adachi, H. Winkler, K. Kuribayashi, R. Larsson, N. Yoshida, Y. Takahashi, M. Sato, A. B. Chen, R. R. Hsu, Y. Nakano, T. Fujinawa, S. Nara, Y. Uchiyama, Y. Kasai

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4 Citations (Scopus)


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 1025 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere60090
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 16

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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