Letter | Published:

Effect of variable energy input on nitrogen fixation in instantaneous linear discharges

Naturevolume 277pages123124 (1979) | Download Citation



ATMOSPHERIC nitrogen oxides are a central issue in the photochemistry of the troposphere, stratosphere and urban atmosphere. The removal of nitrogen oxides by precipitation is a source of fixed nitrogen to the biosphere. Thus the nitrogen fixation rate by natural and anthropogenic discharges is of wide concern1–8. While it is generally assumed that P, the molecules of NO produced per joule of discharge, is independent of the input energy, the analysis reported here implies that P does vary with input energy. Thus care must be taken when extrapolating NO yields from small laboratory sparks to more energetic processes of potential geochemical significance. Although the calculations assume a cylindrical symmetry appropriate for a linear discharge, the results are consistent with equivalent calculations using spherical symmetry.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Zel'dovitch, Y. B. & Raizer, Y. P. Physics of Shock Waves and High-Temperature Hydrodynamic Phenomena (Academic, New York, 1966).

  2. 2

    Zel'dovitch, Y. B. Acta physicochimica URSS 21, 577 (1946).

  3. 3

    Foley, H. M. & Ruderman, M. A. J. geophys. Res. 78, 4441–4450 (1973).

  4. 4

    Johnston, H. S., Whitten, G. & Birks, J. J. geophys. Res. 78, 6107–6135 (1973).

  5. 5

    Goldsmith, P., Tuck, H. F., Foot, J. S., Simmons, E. L. & Newson, R. L. Nature 244, 545–551 (1973).

  6. 6

    Gilmore, F. R. J. geophys. Res. 80, 4553–4554 (1975).

  7. 7

    Chameides, W. L., Stedman, D. H., Dickerson, R. R., Rusch, D. W. & Cicerone, R. J. J. atmos. Sci. 34, 143–149 (1977).

  8. 8

    Tuck, A. F. Q. J. meteor. Soc. 102, 749–755 (1976).

  9. 9

    Stull, D. R. & Prophet, H. JANAF Thermochemical Tables (NSRDS-NBS 37, US Govt Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1971).

  10. 10

    Baulch, D. L., Drysdale, D. D., Horne, D. G. & Lloyd, A. C. Evaluated Kinetic Data for High Temperature Reactions, Vol. 2 Homogeneous Gas Phase Reactions of the H2-N2-O2 System (Chemical Rubber Co., Cleveland, 1973).

  11. 11

    Hampson, R. F. & Garvin, D., (eds) Chemical Kinetic and Photochemical Data for Modelling Atmospheric Chemistry (NBS Tech Note 866, NBS, Washington, D. C., 1975).

  12. 12

    Lin, S. C. J. appl. Phys. 25, 54–57 (1954).

  13. 13

    Zucrow, M. I. & Hoffman, J. D. Gas Dynamics Vol. 1 (Wiley, New York, 1976).

  14. 14

    Zipf, E. C. & Dubin, M. Trans. Am. geophys. Union, 57, 965 (1976a).

  15. 15

    Zipf, E. C. & Dubin, M. Trans. Am. Geophys. Union., 57, 156 (1976b).

  16. 16

    Brook, M., Kitagawa, N. & Workman, E. J. J. geophys. Res. 67, 649–659 (1962).

  17. 17

    Robinson, E. & Robbins, R. C. J. Air Pollut. Contr. Ass. 20, 303–306 (1970).

  18. 18

    Galbally, I. E. Tellus 27, 67–70 (1975).

  19. 19

    Eriksson, E. Tellus 4, 215–232 (1952).

  20. 20

    Burns, R. C. & Hardy, R. W. Nitrogen Fixation in Bacteria and Higher Plants (Springer, New York, 1975).

  21. 21

    Noxon, J. F. J. geophys. Res. 83, 3051–3057 (1978).

Download references

Author information


  1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 32611



  1. Search for W. L. CHAMEIDES in:

About this article

Publication history



Issue Date



Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.