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soil nitrogen from lightning  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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jeremiah bailey
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I'd never heard that before.
 
                              
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I'm gittin old (and crazy too)

Kin eye have a hat like that?
 
paul wheaton
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I really like skeeter's hats.  He often changes his hats throughout the day.
 
                        
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yep paul,

a well known fact in my life anyway, have you ever noticed how much greener the grass especially looks after a thunder storm, though he did explain it differently to what i have heard before, we have always been told that the nitrogen is forced into the clouds to mix with the rain with the action that follows lightening and causes the thunder, that is lighting opens a path through the air and as the air comes back together rather violently that causes the thunder and that is when the nitrogen and other elements in the air gets forced into the rain cloud. farmers like to see thunder storms.

but at the end of the day yes a good thunder storm is good for the garden. a bloke has a business over here of collecting rain water for bottling he doesn't collect storm wate because it has these extras in it. good ole donna und blitzen love it.

so not only nitrogen is involved.

len
 
paul wheaton
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My limited understanding:  the atmosphere is 80% nitrogen already.  Lighting pops some of the N2 and O2, some of which recombine into NO (nitric oxide) - just add rain and ... nitrates falling to the earth!  Damn spiffy!

 
Paul Cereghino
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just add a coal-fired powerplant, and lots more nitrate falling to earth 

Does anyone know or certain if it the same process for phosphorus?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Paul W.: That's my understanding, too.

Paul C.: I had mostly heard of nitrogen oxides being made in internal combustion engines, only they tend to transform into ozone (aka smog) if they aren't caught up in acid rain or broken down by catalytic converters. I think the major acid rain concern from coal was sulfur oxides, but I think first world furnaces tend to scrub those now, too.

The phosphorus cycle resembles sulfur more than nitrogen, but phosphorus oxides are less volatile than either. As phosphoric acid is boiled down, water is removed and it polymerizes via a reaction that resembles the formation of polysaccharides. These phosphate polymers are stable to very high temperatures, and don't really evaporate.
 
larry korn
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This nitrogen "rain" after lightening sounds right, but I had never considered it before.  "Like little droplets of sugar..." for the plants, as Skeeter said.  BTW, I like his hats, too.
 
Paul Cereghino
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
I had mostly heard of nitrogen oxides being made in internal combustion engines, only they tend to transform into ozone (aka smog) if they aren't caught up in acid rain or broken down by catalytic converters. I think the major acid rain concern from coal was sulfur oxides, but I think first world furnaces tend to scrub those now, too.


eeek... you'll teach me to be flip... ops:

I think your right about the importance of sulfur contribution to acidification.  And I found one piece of evidence that current levels in NE US are less then if no EPA regulation had occurred.

I was focused on the acid rain input as well as dry deposition of industrial NO emissions rather than the ozone pathway.  It seems that there is not a clean cut between cars and other industrial sources, though point sources are easier to regulate.

"According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),1 the major sources of NOx in the eastern United States during 2004 were on-road vehicles (36%), followed by the power industry (23%), off-road mobile sources (19%), and the remainder attributed to area sources."
http://www.epa.gov/AMD/peer/products/188329_Gego_AIR.pdf

But if you look at N cycling from the perspective of aquatic ecosystem then you have a different set of impacts.  It looks like this Chesapeake study also describes fossil fuel burning in general but also identifies volatilization of ammonia from feed lots, and refutes earlier models in that:

"Substantial quantities of nitrogen can be deposited from the atmosphere as
‘‘dry deposition,’’ which includes aerosols and other particles and uptake of
gaseous forms of nitrogen by vegetation, soils, and surface waters. Both in the
United States and Europe, the extremely sparse spatial coverage in networks for
measuring dry deposition severely limits estimation of this process (Holland
et al., 2005)."

http://www.whoi.edu/science/seagrant/Publications/ocean/Howarth.2008.Narragansett.Bay.book.pdf

And it sounds like it ain't over..

"In 2020, with a projected population of 8.5 billion and an assumed 100% increase in per capita energy consumption relative to 1980 by the lesser developed countries, we predict an approximate 25% increase in total nitrogen deposition in the more-developed-country source regions such as North America. In addition, reactive nitrogen deposition will at least double in less-developed regions, such as SE Asia and Latin America, and will increase by more than 50% over the oceans of the Northern Hemisphere. Although we also predict significant increases in the deposition of nitrogen from fossil-fuel sources over most of the Southern Hemisphere, particularly Africa, the tropical eastern Pacific, and the southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans, biomass burning and the natural sources of nitrogen oxides (lightning and biogenic soil emissions) are also important in these regions. This increased deposition has the potential to fertilize both terrestrial and marine ecosystems"
http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?requester=gs&collection=ENV&recid=3631720&q=biomass+burning+and+nitrogen+oxide&uid=788964746&setcookie=yes

Based on my very limited knowledge (keep learnin' me) I propose that nitrogen deposition from a variety of industrial sources is not a thing of the past.

If you google scholar 'lightning induced nitrogen oxide' there are some juicy articles...


 
larry korn
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Fascinating.  I had heard about how important volcanic ash raining down was to long term soil fertility.  Jared Diamond in his book, Collapse, for example pointed out how the tiny, and not so tiny, islands in the Pacific could be separated into two groups...those that got ashfall from the winds from Asia and those that didn't.  The ones that did were much better off.  Of course that didn't help all that much if they eventually cut down all the trees and then over taxed the land and the fisheries.
 
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