Atmospheric/Air Chemistry

The Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science at Penn State University provides graduate research opportunities in air chemistry and climate change. Field studies are routinely carried out in many regions of the world to investigate trace gas emissions, transport, and deposition in rural and suburban environments. Of particular interest is the transformation of gases to particles and how such particles can directly and indirectly influence climate.

Information obtained from field investigations requires integration within existing numerical models. New numerical models are often developed to study atmospheric transport and chemical transformation of trace gases. Carbon cycle research involves flux tower and numerical modeling studies designed to determine the carbon sequestration provided by forests and agro-ecosystems. Paleoclimate investigations involve data analyses and numerical modeling activities to determine the history and future drivers of the Earth’s climate.

Opportunities are available for graduate students to develop and field-test new instrumentation to study air quality and regional climate change. Possibilities exist for graduate students to become involved with international research in places such as Canada (in the high Arctic), Brazil, Panama, Mexico, Senegal, and South Africa. 

In the News

Air Pollution Impedes Bees' Ability to Find Flowers, Washington Post (May 2008)


Dr. William Brune talks about the broad impacts that his research in understanding atmospheric composition and chemistry has on improving air quality, which would translate to improvements in world health and climate change. 

People specializing in this area

Graduate Students

Jacob Tindan

My current research seeks to understand how Saharan dust emissions, and transport to the Sahel, the eastern United States, and the Caribbean has changed over the past decade, and will change in the future under the various climatic forcing scenarios.

In other works, I have examined the diurnal cycles of dust activities (dust optical depth and dust layer height) over the dust belt (North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia) using satellite, ground-based, and reanalysis products. Using reanalysis products from ERA5 and MERRA2, the meteorological and land surface conditions affecting the diurnal cycle of dust activities were also examined. In addition, I have also assessed the interannual variations in dust over some regions of North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian Subcontinent. To understand the factors controlling trends in dust activities, some machine learning techniques (support vector machines and random forest regressions) were utilized. 

Manuscripts on these projects are already under review and others at various stages of completion. Results from these works have been presented in some conferences, such as the 102 annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and another abstract is submitted to the American Geophysical Union for the fall 2022 annual meeting. The results from these projects will significantly improve our current understanding of the spatial-temporal variability of dust over the dust belt, and their transport from North Africa to the United States and the Caribbean, Europe, and the Sahel and the Guinea Coast.