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

Lightning and subvisible discharges produce molecules that clean the atmosphere (April 2021)

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


the cleansing power of lightning

Distinguished Professor William Brune and his research
team of Jena Jenkins, David Miller, and Patrick McFarland
won the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences 2022
Robertson Award for Research Breakthrough of the Year
for their recent discovery of the atmospheric cleansing
power of lightning.  Click the image above to learn more
about this fascinating discovery!

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