Professor Dave Covert and graduate student taking observations of aerosols at the clean marine site at Cheeka Peak in the Olympic Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The atmosphere is chemically complex and evolving due to natural events, biological and anthropogenic activities; it has fundamental chemical links to the oceans, the solid earth and the biota. Anthropogenic perturbations such as land-use and industrial activities have profoundly modified the chemical composition of the troposphere and stratosphere, with potentially important consequences on future climate and living organisms. Examples of such changes include the formation of an ozone hole over Antarctica since the late 1970s, the observed trends in long-lived greenhouse gases, the change in the concentrations of tropospheric ozone and acidic deposition due to growing emissions of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in industrialized regions.
Laboratory studies, field experiments and modeling activities by atmospheric chemists at the University of Washington are directed at determining chemical composition and chemical processes in the atmosphere and in turn their effects on the atmosphere, and on a larger scale the biogeochemistry of the earth. The laboratory and experimental research deals with trace gas measurements and physical, chemical and optical properties of particles. Global models of atmospheric chemistry and climate use these observations to improve their predictions of future changes in atmospheric composition, and also guide the development of analytical techniques and the logistics of large-scale field measurement programs.