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Greening Up: How Lightning Helps Plants Grow

You likely notice plants springing back to life.
Lightning speeds of the nitrogen cycle and quickly creates nitrates that plants need to survive.
Lightning speeds of the nitrogen cycle and quickly creates nitrates that plants need to survive.(WMTV)
Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 9:23 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -The last couple of days have felt more like early May than early April with temperatures well into the 70s and thunderstorms dotting the landscape. While the warmer temperatures and rainfall are both helping to spring things back to life, we can thank lightning for an added boost in growth.

Think back to science class for a minute. Of course you have heard of the Water Cycle. Did you ever learn about the Nitrogen cycle? Nitrogen makes up 78 percent of our atmosphere and is essential to the growth of healthy plants.

A Nitrogen molecule consists of two atoms which are held tightly together. In order for plants to absorb nitrogen, the two atoms must be separated. This is where lightning comes in!

During a lightning strike, there is enough electrical energy to separate the Nitrogen atoms in the air. Once separated, they fall to the Earth and combine with minerals in the soil to form Nitrates that help plants grow. While Nitrates form naturally, lighting speeds up the process. Think of lightning as Mother Nature’s fertilizer!

Copyright 2021 WMTV. All rights reserved.

Look for things to really "green up" this week with the warm temperatures, rainfall, and thunderstorms. Yes, lightning helps plants grow!

Posted by Meteorologist Brian Doogs NBC15 on Tuesday, April 6, 2021