Electric discharges on leaves during thunderstorms may impact nearby air quality

Weak electrical discharges, called corona, can form on tree leaves during thunderstorms

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – When thunderstorms rumble overhead, weak electrical discharges — called corona — can occur on tree leaves. A new study found coronas create large amounts of atmospheric chemicals that could impact air quality around forests, according to a team of Penn State scientists.

“While little is known about how widespread these discharges are, we estimate that coronas generated on trees under thunderstorms could have substantial impacts on the surrounding air,” said Jena Jenkins, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science at Penn State.

Conditions during thunderstorms that produce lightning also create electric fields between clouds and the ground. Tall, sharply pointed objects, like leaves high in trees, enhance the electric field even further, and can lead to electrical breakdowns — or coronas, the scientists said.

Full story can be found on Penn State News