Plan B: Engineering a Cooler Earth

Research: Atmosphere

Smoke over North America. (Photo Credit: NASA)
The Caltech solar FTS instrument in Park Falls, Wisconsin.
Navy Twin Otter atmospheric research aircraft operated by Professors Seinfeld and Flagan.
Operating aircraft instruments that measure chemicals in the atmosphere.

Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Pollution

Atmospheric chemistry affects the composition of the atmosphere, properties of clouds, and local air quality. Research at the Linde Center addresses the chemistry and physics of clouds and aerosols, the photochemistry of trace gases such as nitrous oxide, and the emission sources and transport and reaction pathways of pollutants.

Atmospheric Dynamics

The atmosphere is responsible for the bulk of the transport of heat, momentum, and water vapor in the climate system, so atmospheric dynamics shape Earth's climate. Research at the Linde Center addresses how basic climate features such as the distribution and intensity of precipitation and storms come about and how they may change with climate.

Faculty Involved

Thumb_bordoni Simona Bordoni
Thumb_flagan Richard C. Flagan
Thumb_frankenberg Christian Frankenberg
Thumb_ingersoll Andrew P. Ingersoll
Thumb_okumura Mitchio Okumura
Thumb_schneider Tapio Schneider
Thumb_seinfeld John H. Seinfeld
Thumb_wennberg Paul O. Wennberg
Thumb_yung Yuk L. Yung

Tools and Facilities


Atmospheric Chamber

The Atmospheric Chamber is designed for studies of the photochemical reactions of gaseous and particulate pollutants. In two large (1,000-cubic-foot) reaction chambers—the first of their kind when they were built—the chemical reactions that produce urban smog and atmospheric particles are investigated under precisely controllable conditions. They have revealed how the particles that make up smog form in the atmosphere. Research results obtained with them have been instrumental in designing effective air quality policies and in helping to understand the role of aerosols in climate.


Laboratory for Atmospheric Chemical Physics

In the laboratory for atmospheric chemical physics, the interactions of light with molecules in the atmosphere are investigated to elucidate how pollution forms and to measure the atmospheric concentration of aerosols and greenhouse gases. Techniques are developed for the global monitoring of the atmosphere from mobile ground-based laboratories and from space-based instruments.


High-Precision Spectroscopy Laboratory

The High-Precision Spectroscopy Laboratory is housed in a quiet room—a room with specially designed acoustic and electromagnetic insulation. Acoustic foam blocks sound waves and copper cladding around the entire room blocks electromagnetic waves. The noise-free environment allows us to achieve exquisite precision in laser measurements of radiative properties of greenhouse gases, aerosols, and atmospheric trace constituents: the properties of single molecules can be measured. The measurements are the basis for climate models and for planning satellite missions to measure the composition of the atmosphere from space.


GPS Computational Facility

The Geological and Planetary Sciences' supercomputing facility is used in computational modeling studies to interpret and explain data obtained in the laboratory and in field campaigns and to investigate computationally how the climate system responds to perturbations such as those owing to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants.

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