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) Aerosol physics
5) Aerosol chemistry
6) Atmospheric structure and modeling; digitalization
7) Climate and climate change; sustainability


MSc Programme in Chemistry with a minor subject
MSc Programme in Environmental Science

Learning outcome

The student will understand the physics and chemistry of the atmospheric system including the structure and circulation of the atmosphere, emissions sources of pollution, chemical transformations and impacts of pollution, and the deposition of reaction products at the surface. In addition, the flow of energy through the atmosphere from short wave solar radiation, latent heat, and exiting long wave ratiation. In addition the student will understand the transport and chemical lifetimes and typical concentrations of key atmopsheric components.  These components include ozone, methane, carbon monoxide, VOC, aerosol, and radicals including the HOx and ClOx families in the stratosphere and troposphere. Finally the student will understand how anthropogenic pollution results in a changes including air pollution and climate change.


Describe radiative balance including the properties of solar and earthly emission of light. 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 including reaction and photolysis rates and lifetimes. Describe the systems of reactions in the troposphere and stratosphere including sources, initiation, propagation, termination, sinks, and radical families. Describe the sources, transformations and fate of atmospheric particles.

The student should:
-possess general background knowledge of atmospheric chemistry.
-be able to describe atmospheric chemistry including sources, transformations and fates of air pollution in both the gas and particle phase
-be able to describe stratospheric chemistry and the mechanisms underlying ozone formation and destruction
-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, activation and fate in the atmosphere
-discuss the properties of the variety of particle sizes found in the atmosphere including sources, lifetimes and key chemical components.
-be able to discuss climate change including the mechanisms and causes of anthropogenic climate forcings and threats to sustainability
-be able to use and discuss theories and models of the atmosphere such as the grey atmosphere model, box models and plume models, use of computer models and tools; digitalisation


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 and exercises

1. Modeling of Atmospheric Chemistry by Brasseur and Jacob, Cambridge University Press 2017

2. Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry by D. J. Jacob (available online)

3. A few reports, notes and research articles will be provided.

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

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

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

Continuous feedback during the course
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 min (no preparation time)
Type of assessment details
Written aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcomes

Single subject courses (day)

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


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 1
No admission restriction
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Physics, Chemistry and Nanoscience
Contracting department
  • Department of Chemistry
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Matthew Stanley Johnson   (3-6f756c42656a676f306d7730666d)

Matthew Johnson,

Saved on the 28-02-2022

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students