Clayton High School
Earth and Space Sciences; Botany
The Effects of Lightning Upon Plant Life
Lightning is one of the primary sources of both ozone and nitric acid, which is comprised of nitrates and nitrites. Once the corona is discharged, the ozone content of the lightning interacts with nitrogen to produce nitrates. Nitrites are the negative effect of nitrogen fixation, caused when the unstable ozone molecule is broken by the fusion with nitrogen, resulting in the loss of an oxygen molecule. Each of these gases is harmful to plant and animal life. We will attempt to show the effects of these gases upon different crops, such as corn, wheat, beans, and cotton. In some cases, ozone is beneficial to the plant, while nitrites and nitrates are harmful, and other times, the opposite is true. Resistance to ozone must also be taken into account. We will also predict the magnitude of destruction: if lightning strikes in the middle of a grass field, it will kill in a larger area than if it strikes in a forest (assuming that fire is not a factor). By using this information, farmers can be better prepared for crop failure in thunderstorms.