Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview

A detailed overview of the chemical transformations that control the abundances of key trace species in the Earth's atmosphere - Focus is on the "fast photochemistry", and the underlying physical chemistry, that controls radical cycles, ozone levels, and pollutant concentrations - Emphasis on topics of current scientific / societal interest, related to the effects of human activity on air quality and climate: chemistry of urban air, particulate matter, and chemistry-climate coupling - Companion course to 12.306/10.571/12.806, Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry (spring term).

Required Textbook (Most Assigned Readings)

Seinfeld, John H., and Spyros N. Pandis. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: From Air Pollution to Climate Change. 2nd ed. Wiley-Interscience, 2006. ISBN: 9780471720188. Students may also use the 1st edition; however, the page numbers of assigned readings may differ—students would need to cross-reference with 2nd edition.

Other useful textbooks include:

Jacob, Daniel. Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry. Princeton University Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780691001852. [Preview with Google Books]. This textbook is also available online.

Finlayson-Pitts, Barbara J., and James N. Pitts. Chemistry of the Upper and Lower Atmosphere: Theory, Experiments, and Applications. Academic Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780122570605. [Preview with Google Books]


Problem Sets 30
Midterm Exam 30
Presentation 10
Final Project 30
  • Problem Sets: There will be four problem sets in total.
  • Midterm Exam: The exam will be in-class, open book, and open notes.
  • Class Presentation: Each student will give one 20–minute lecture to the class on a current atmospheric chemistry technique or approach (measurement / modeling). These will be given throughout the semester, with the specific topic related to that day's lecture. They are intended as an overview of the subject, with citations from the recent literature. Topics for this semester include:
    • Measurement Networks
    • Large-scale Field Campaigns
    • Atmospheric Modeling (Eulerian and Lagragian)
    • Satellite Measurements
  • Final Project: Each student will carry out a detailed study of a current topic in atmospheric chemistry. This is not a literature survey (unlike the class presentation), but rather a modeling study or a synthesis / reanalysis of existing data, to provide new insight into an atmospheric chemical process or system. The work should be sufficiently novel and extensive that it could provide the foundation for a manuscript in the peer-reviewed literature. The project will be written up in paper form, as well as a presented as a talk during the last week of classes. Details will be provided later in the semester.