Global Atmospheric Chemistry (ESCI 896.05 & 796.05)






Also taught Spring 2018

ESCI 796/896 – Global Atmospheric Chemistry


Introduction to the principles of atmospheric chemistry and their relationship to biogeochemical cycles, climate, and global change. Focus is on understanding the basic physical and chemical processes that determine the trace gas distribution in the global troposphere. An introduction to atmospheric vertical structure and global circulation dynamics provides the foundation. Examimes chemical cycles of important C, S, and N molecules, including their possible perturbation by human activities. Basic photochemical processes, particularly with respect to reactive nitrogen hydrocarbons, and the production/destruction of ozone. Prereq: one year college chemistry. 3 cr.

Mastery Objectives: By the end of this course, students will…

  • Know the major consistuents of Earth’s atmosphere and how they are measured
  • Be able to identify, convert, and compare measures of atmospheric chemistry.
  • Understand how the vertical structure and coordinate systems used in atmospheric science inform the study of trace gas photochemistry and transport.
  • Know the atmospheric transport processes that control the distribution of trace gases.
  • Identify the role that atmospheric chemistry plays in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, sulfur.
  • Understand the impact of solar radiation, terrestrial radiaton, greenhouse gases, and aerosols on Earth’s radiation balance.
  • Be able to describe the photochemical mechanisms involved in photochemical smog (ozone), acid rain (sulfur chemistry), and stratospheric ozone (including the Antarctic ozone hole).
  • Become familiar with the types of atmospheric models, where atmospheric chemistry fits into these models, how to to access these tools, and the remaining uncertainties.
  • Know how to apply the laws of thermodynamics to atmospheric chemical reactions.
  • Understand the processes that control the oxidizing capacity of the troposphere.
  • Become proficient at working with first order reactions, bimolecular reactions, pressure-dependent reactions, and “lumped” reactions in atmospheric chemical mechanisms.
  • Know how to represent aqueous and heterogenous reactions in chemical mechanisms and models. Understand the role of aerosols in the photochemistry and transport of atmospheric pollutants.



Related Materials