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ES 406: Atmospheric Chemistry and Biology (AST)

Course Title

Atmospheric Chemistry and Biology

Course Code

ES 406

Course Type

Track Mandatory (Atmospheric Sciences Track)



Year / Semester

1st / 1st (Subject to change)

Instructor’s Name

Nikolaos Mihalopoulos (Lead Instructor), George Biskos, Mihalis Vrekoussis, Jonathan Williams, Minas Iakovides, Kamil Erguler 



Lectures / week

1 (3h)

Laboratories / week


Course Purpose and Objectives

The course aims to provide: Chemical principles applied to the study of atmospheres. Atmospheric photochemistry and kinetics, introduction to thermodynamics, radical reactions, chemical lifetime determinations, acid rain, greenhouse effects, ozone cycle, and evolution are discussed.

Emphasis on topics of current scientific / societal interest, related to the effects of human activity on air quality and climate: chemistry of urban air, particulate matter, biogeochemical cycles, and chemistry-climate coupling.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students should be able to: use fundamental chemistry to explain important atmospheric process; foresee the impact and fate of chemical species on the atmosphere; to understand different models to predict and explain the role of atmospheric processes; to understand the links between the atmosphere and the other compartments of the biosphere; to evaluate the potential impact of the key atmospheric pollution problems.




Course Content

1.  The structure and composition of atmosphere

2.  Energy balance of the atmosphere

3.  Thermodynamics

4.  Kinetics and reaction rates

5.  Atmospheric oxidants and radicals (photochemistry)

6.  Ozone formation (tropospheric chemistry)

7.  Stratospheric chemistry-ozone hole

8.  Atmospheric fate of organic air pollutants compounds

9.  Atmospheric inorganic compounds (N and S cycle)

10.  Characterization of chemical structure of atmospheric chemical species

11.  Structure-reactivity relationship to predict atmospheric oxidation

12.  Interactions between atmospheric composition and the biosphere

13.  Aerosols, including biogenic particles

Teaching Methodology

Lectures. Seminars. Case studies. Literature Reviews.


Seinfeld, J. and Pandis, S. 1998, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: From Air Pollution to Climate Change, Wiley Interscience, New York.

Finlayson-Pitts, B.J. and Pitts, Jr. J.N. 2000, Chemistry of the Upper and Lower Atmosphere, Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

John M. Wallace and Peter V. Hobbs Atmospheric Science (Second Edition): An Introductory Survey


Coursework and exam



Publications & Media