Early-season lightning can be an effective fertilizer

A few thunderstorms found portions of Michiana on Wednesday, another sign that spring is here.

Lightning can be an effective early-season fertilizer of sorts, and can help plants and grass look more vibrant (and green) by tapping into the nitrogen in the atmosphere.

The electrical energy in lightning breaks down the bonds in the (plentiful) nitrogen molecules in the air. Those molecules then attach to the oxygen molecules in the atmosphere, leading to the formation of nitrogen dioxide. This compound dissolves in water, which spawns nitric acid and eventually nitrates. The nitrates fall in raindrops, and seep into the ground, helping to fertilize the soil.

While lightning can help the "green-up" along, microorganisms in the soil do a lot of the work to add nitrogen to the soil.

If the drought gets too severe, however, a lot of lightning could spark grass fires across Michiana as well. 


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