Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Pollution
Atmospheric chemistry affects the composition of the atmosphere, properties of clouds, and global air quality. Research at The Linde Center addresses the chemistry and physics of clouds and aerosols, the photochemistry of trace gases, and the emission sources and transport and reaction pathways of pollutants.
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 have changed in the past and how they may change in the future. Faculty are building a new Earth system model (CliMA ) that will provide a new level of accuracy to predictions of droughts, heat waves, and rainfall extremes.
Tools and Facilities
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.
Caltech High Performance Computing
The mission of the High Performance Computing Center at Caltech is to support the research efforts of scientists performing sponsored research.