Atmospheric Environmental Chemistry

Course content

Atmospheric Chemistry; from air pollution to climate change
The course covers seven topics:
1) Atmospheric photochemistry and kinetics,
2) Stratospheric chemistry
3) Tropospheric chemistry
4) Aqueous chemistry
5) Particles
6) Deposition
7) Climate


MSc Programme in Chemistry
MSc Programme in Environmental Chemistry and Health

Learning outcome

The student should have a feeling for the orders of magnitude of values commonly found in atmospheric chemistry including for example concentrations of important radicals and trace gases, pressures and temperatures, the density of an atmospheric particle, NOx levels.
The student should be able to describe the fate of a number of chemicals (that are part of the pensum) when they are emitted into the atmosphere, to know their sources and have a feeling for their lifetime and effects on the local and global environment.
The student should be able to discuss climate change and account for the mechamisms and causes of anthropogenic climate change.

Describe radiative balance including the properties of solar and earthly emission of light. Account for photolysis and the absorption and scattering of radiation in the atmosphere. Describe the greenhouse effect and know the most important greenhouse gases.
Describe the kinetics and mechanism of the degradation of different chemicals in the atmosphere.

The student should:
-possess general background knowledge of atmospheric chemistry.
-be able to account for the most important chemistry occuring in the troposphere.
-be able to describe stratospheric chemistry and the mechanisms underlying ozone formation and destruction
-be able to write the mechanisms for deposition of gasses and particles
-know the chemistry occurring in water droplets and account for the physical chemistry that determines how well a given chemical is taken up into the liquid phase
-know the principles governing particle formation, growth and fate in the atmosphere
-be able to draw a figure showing different classes of particle sizes found in the atmosphere and be able to describe their sources, lifetimes and key chemical components.
-be able to discuss climate change including the mechanisms and causes of anthropogenic climate forcings

To achieve the grade of 12 the student should master the material and goals described in the course description and that are part of the exam with no or only a few minor mistakes. The student should demonstrate understanding of the physical and chemical processes underlying atmospheric properties. The student should demonstrate understanding of specific formulas with relevant units, and chemical reaction equations. The student should know of any relevant assumptions behind these equations. The student shall demonstrate an overview of the subject and be able to explain connections between the seven topics. The student should be able to explain the flow of chemicals and material through the atmospheric environment from emission to deposition, and evaluate the environmental impact locally and globally. The student should have a feeling for which parts of the subject are well known and which are less well developed.


Lectures, exercise hours and computer lab

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics by J. H. Seinfeld and S. N. Pandis, Second Edition, Wiley, 2006.

Background knowledge of mathematics, physics and chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical) obtained in a Bachelors degree study of chemistry or a related subject.

Exceptions can be made to admit students with other backgrounds, for example meteorologists, biologists and geologists have enjoyed the course.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 min (no preparation time)
Written aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcomes

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Preparation
  • 149
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Theory exercises
  • 21
  • Guidance
  • 7
  • English
  • 206