Chem541 Atmospheric Chemistry

Course Description




Atmospheric composition and structure

Chemical kinetics

Ozone air pollution

Stratospheric O3

Oxidizing power of the troposphere

Aerosol Chemistry

Greenhouse effect

Simple models

Receptor modeling

Geochemical cycles

Fall 2008, Tuesday 18:30-21:20, Rm3598


Dr. Jianzhen YU
Rm 4528, Tel: 2358-7389,
Office hour: walk-in or by appointment.


Course Description

A fundamental introduction to the physical and chemical processes determining the composition of the atmosphere and its implications for climate, ecosystems, and human welfare. Nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, sulfur geochemical cycles. Climate and the greenhouse effect. Stratospheric ozone. Oxidizing power of the atmosphere. Regional air pollution: aerosols, smog, and acid rain.



“Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry”, Daniel J. Jacob, Princeton University Press, 1999.
60% of course materials are derived from this textbook and some homework assignments are from this book. The other 40% will be provided to you as handouts or selected sections in the reference books.


Reference books

  1. Atmospheric chemistry and physics : from air pollution to climate change / John H. Seinfeld, Spyros N. Pandis, New York : Wiley, c1998, (QC879.6 S45 2006).
  2. Chemistry of the upper and lower atmosphere : theory, experiments and applications / Barbara J. Finlayson-Pitts, James N. Pitts, Jr, San Diego, Calif. : Academic Press, c2000 (QC879.6 F565 2000).

Grade Assessment

  • Homework Assignments (20%)

  • course project: presentation + write-up (25%)

  • Final exam: (55%) (4:30-7:00 pm, 12 December 2005, Rm2464)

Course Project/Presentation


  • The whole class will be divided into 15-17 groups. Each group consists of 2 students, and is formed on a voluntary basis. Each group is assigned (through drawing lots) a topic and its respective presentation date. Group members work together to prepare and make a presentation of 30 min while each member is required to write his/her own report on the topic. The report needs to be at least 15 pages long in double space (excluding the cover page).

  • The written reports are due at 6 pm on 9 Dec (Tuesday). Email submission of a soft copy of the report is sufficient.

  • Preparation of the oral presentation should be a group effort while delivery of the oral presentation is to be made by one representative from the group.

  • List of topics

  • Course Outline

    • Atmospheric composition and structure
    • Chemical kinetics of atmospheric reactions
    • Ozone air pollution
    • Stratospheric ozone
    • Oxidizing power of the troposphere
    • Aerosol Chemistry
    • Source Apportionment Models for Air Quality Management
    • Greenhouse effect and Climate Change
    • Acid rain
    • Simple models
    • Geochemical cycles

    Lecture notes, handouts and supplementary materials

    • Lecture notes will be posted one day before each lecture at
    • Handouts will be posted on the web or distributed in class.
    • Supplementary reading materials are for those who are interested in knowing more on a specific topic. You are not required to read them unless you are interested.

    Lecture notes and reading materials

    (Tentative, will be modified according to the actual progress of the course.)

    Week Lecture Date Topic and Lecture Notes Reading
    1 2 Sep. Topic 1: Atmospheric Composition and atmospheric structures

    Textbook, chpt. 1 and 2

    lecture notes supplemental notes

    2 9 Sep. Topic 2: Chemical Kinetics of Atmospheric Reactions

    Textbook, chpt. 9

    Seinfeld and Pandis: Chpt. 3

    Lecture notes

    3 16 Sep.

    Topic 3: Ozone Air Pollution

    Textbook, chpt. 12,

    Lecture notes

    4 23 Sep. Lecture cancelled due to Typhoon  
    5 30 Sep. Topic 4: Stratospheric Ozone

    Textbook, chpt. 10

    revised lecture notes

    6 7 Oct. Chung Yeung Holiday
    7 14 Oct. Topic 4: Stratospheric Ozone (continued)
    8 21 Oct. Topic 5: Oxidizing Power of the Troposphere

    Textbook, chapter 11, Lecture notes

    "Short-term variations in the oxidizing power of the atmosphere" by Manning et al., Nature, 2005, v436, 1001-1004.

    9 28 Oct. Topic 6: Aerosols

    Textbook, chapter 8

    Lecture notes (or Check

    10 4 Nov.

    Guest lecture:

    Topic 7: Source Apportionment Models

    Lecture notes available at

    11 11 Nov.

    Topic 6: Aerosols (continued)

    Video: An Inconvenient Truth

    12 18 Nov. Topic 8: The Greenhouse Effect

    Textbook, Chapter 7

    Lecture notes available at

    13 25 Nov. Topic 9: Simple Models

    Textbook, Chapter 3

    Lecture notes available at

    14 2 Dec.
        Final exam: 4:30-7:00 pm, 12 December 2005, Rm2464