AOSC / CHEM 433 & AOSC / CHEM 633 Atmospheric Chemistry & Climate

Instructor: Ross Salawitch

Grader: Laura McBride

Tues-Thurs, 2:00 to 3:15 pm

Fall 2020: 3 units

Required Text:

            Chemistry in Context: Applying Chemistry to Society

                        7th edition, American Chemical Society

      Text can be purchased if you'd like.  Or, can download PDF file here.




ELMS Course Page


Supplemental Text:


Global Warming: The Complete Briefing  (5th edition) by John Houghton

Paris Climate Agreement: Beacon of Hope by Ross J. Salawitch, Timothy P. Canty, Austin P. Hope, Walter R. Tribett, and Brian F. Bennett

Twenty Questions and Answers About the Ozone Layer by Ross J. Salawitch, David W. Fahey, Michaela I. Hegglin, Laura A. McBride, Walter R. Tribett, and Sarah J. Doherty

Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy by George A. Olah, Alain Goeppert, and G. K. Surya Prakash

Green Chemistry: An Inclusive Approach, edited by Béla Török and Timothy Dransfield (graduate students will be assigned two chapters)


Readings from Supplemental Text will be assigned via password protected files posted below.  These files are to be used only for this course.


1) We will use the  7th edition of Chemistry in Context rather than the latest (9th edition) because of student cost (there are hundreds of used copies of the 7th edition available on Amazon for under $20; there is no used copy market for the 9th edition).  In addition, since Ross actually helped write the 7th edition, as noted on page xiv of the Preface, he is able to provide registered students access to an electronic version of the book, as will be discussed during the first class meeting.


2)  We will use Chapter 1 and a few other readings from Paris Climate Agreement: Beacon of Hope that Ross and his team wrote.  This book is available electronically, for free, via open access.  Hard copies can be purchased from various on-line venders for ~$45 to $60.  Students are welcome to use the free electronic version of the book for the class.


3)  We will attempt to record all lectures.  If the recording is successful, the link for "Video" in the table below will become "hot".  Students are expected to attend lecture via Zoom.  We record lectures to assist students with occasional inability to attend class and to help students review lecture material, particularly for exam preparation.


1. Course Description

2. Course Schedule

3. Grade Policy

4. Admission Tickets

5. Additional Readings

6. Collaboration Policy

7. Office Hours

1. Course Description

The effects of human activity on atmospheric composition, focused on global warming, the carbon cycle, air pollution, and the ozone layer. Fundamentals of atmospheric chemistry (spectroscopy, kinetics, isotopic analysis, and biogeochemical cycles) are related to the modern understanding of climate change, air quality, and ozone depletion, based on resources such as satellite missions, field campaigns, and scientific assessments published by international agencies. We also examine how society’s future energy needs could be met in a manner with less impact on atmospheric composition than the present heavy reliance on combustion of fossil fuels.

The course is taught at a level appropriate for upper class undergraduate physical science majors and first year graduate students.

Pre-requisites: CHEM131 or CHEM135 or CHEM146 and MATH 241 or permission of the instructors.

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2. Schedule


Lecture Topic

Required Reading

Admis. Tickets

Lecture Notes

Problem Sets*

Additional Readings



09/01 Class Overview

No reading for first meeting


Lecture 0

2020 Zoom


    No Quiz
09/03  Geological Evolution of Earth's Atmosphere

Paris Beacon of Hope

Sec 1.1, 1.2 (intro), and 1.2.1 (11.5 pages)

AT 1

Lecture 1

2020 Zoom



Ivany and Salawitch, Geology, 1993

Quiz 1

Voluntary viewing of

Day The Dinosaurs Died



2020 Zoom

Accompaniment Slides



Overview of Global Warming, Air Quality, & Ozone Depletion


(1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, & 3.1)

(11 pages)

EPA AQI Brochure

(11 pages)

20 QAs Ozone (Q1, 2, 7, & 14)

(11 pages)

Paris Beacon of Hope Sec 1.2.2 (3 pages)

AT 2


Lecture 2

2020 Zoom



Kerr, Science, 2007 *

Bell et al., EHP, 2006 *

Montzka et al., Nature, 2018

Naming Convention for CFCs & Halons

Entire IPCC 2007 FAQ

Entire 20 QAs Ozone

Movie Clip

Quiz 2 


Fundamentals of Earth's Atmosphere

Chemistry in Context:

Sections 1.0 to 1.2, 1.5 to 1.8, 1.14, 2.1, 3.6 & 3.7

 (~28 pgs)

McElroy, Effective Temperature & The Concept of Geostrophy

(4 pages)

AT 3

Lecture 3

2020 Zoom



McElroy, Adiabatic Motion in the Vertical *

 Houghton, Ch 2

Quiz 3 

Lecture 3 catch-up:

Will greatly appreciate

if students watch the

25 minute video


Lecture 3 catch-up




Climates of the Past

Chemistry in Context, Sec 2.2, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2

(14 pages)

Houghton, Ch 4

(pgs 77-84)

Paris Beacon of Hope   Sec 1.1 (7 pages; please review)

AT 4  

Lecture 4

2020 Zoom



Chylek & Lohmann, GRL, 2008 *


(questions 6.1, 6.2)


Parrenin et al., Science, 2013


Press release for Sept 2020 paper

Quiz 4


Global Carbon Cycle

Chemistry in Context, Sec 3.5, 4.0, 4.1, 6.5

(8 pages)

Houghton, Pg 33-46

Paris Beacon of Hope Sec (8 pages)

AT 5  

Lecture 5

2020 Zoom




IPCC 2007, Section & Box 7.3 *


Doney, Ocean Acidification, Scientific American, March 2006


Global Carbon Project

Quiz 5


Biogeochemical Cycles of CHand N2O

Chemistry in Context, Sec 3.8 & Sec 6.9

(8 pages)

Houghton, Pg 46-50

Paris Beacon of Hope Sec &

(5 pages)

AT 6


Lecture 6

2020 Zoom


Problem Set 1  due today:

433 Students

633 Students

Kirschke et al., 2013 *

Kort et al., 2014

Saunois et al., 2019

Quiz 6
09/24 Radiative Forcing

Chemistry in Context, Sec 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 3.3

& 3.4

(14 pages)

Paris Beacon of Hope Sec 1.2 (intro), 1.2.1 (please review), &

(8 pages)

AT 7

Lecture 7

2020 Zoom



Green Chemistry, Chapter 3.4 (Sections to provide a nice mathematical complement to the lecture material)


Myhre et al., GRL, 1998


Bera et al., JPC, 2009

Quiz 7 

Lecture 7 catch-up:

Will greatly appreciate

if students watch the

20 minute video


Lecture 7 catch-up




Modeling Earth's Climate: Water Vapor, Aerosol, Cloud, & Albedo Feedbacks

Chemistry in Context, Sec 3.9

(6 pages)

Houghton, pg 105-116

AT 8

Lecture 8

2020 Zoom



Bony et al., 2006

Hope et al., 2020

Quiz 8

Consequences of Climate Change

Chemistry in Context,

Sec 3.10

(5 pages)


Forbes Article



Lecture 9

2020 Zoom



Union of Concerned Scientists

Climate Reality Project

Climate Change and Disease

NY Times, Bangladesh

NY Times, Kiribati

No Quiz

Problem Set 2 due today at 5 pm:

433 Students

633 Students

Bonus Video: 13 min long, Sixty Minutes story on Calif wildfires that aired 4 Oct 2020.  Well worth watching if you have time.



Review of Problem Sets #1 & #2, as well as Lectures 1 to 8, in preparation for the

 First Exam

  No AT

Review A

2020 Zoom


    No Quiz

First Exam was supposed to be held, but canceled due to outage of this website caused by a power issue in our server room.


First Exam:

Will cover first Lectures 1 to 8 as well as first two Problem Sets


On line, open book, 75 mins long.  Students are expected to take the exam during regular class ours on Thursday, 8 Oct, and be logged into ELMS (video on, sound muted) during the exam.

433 students are responsible for the material covered in Lectures 1 to 8, the material in Chapter 1 of Paris Beacon of Hope (minus Section and the Methods section; 31 pages) and the other readings from Chemistry in Context, Houghton, plus the IPCC, EPA, and 20 QAs Ozone readings assigned for Lecture 2.

Link to exam:
Exam 1

633 students are responsible for all of the 433 readings (as detailed to the left) plus all of the items marked above with an asterisk



Review of First Exam


Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry

Chemistry in Context,

Sec 2.0, 2.1, 2.3, & 2.6

(10 pages)


 Please consider completing the Student Survey

Lecture 10

2020 Zoom


    Quiz 10


Introduction to Photolysis

Chemistry in Context,

Sec 2.7

(5 pages)

20 QAs Ozone (Q16)

(3 pages)

Section 2.4 and 2.5 of Warneck, Chemistry of the Natural Atmosphere

(16 pages. Challenging material that will be tough sledding for some; read as best you can)

AT 11

Lecture 11

2020 Zoom




Quiz 11

Lecture 11 catch-up:

Will greatly appreciate

if students watch the

first 19 mins, 20 sec

of this video


Lecture 11 catch-up


(sound is a little low, so will have to crank volume)

10/22 Introduction to Chemical Kinetics Chemistry in Context,

Sec 4.6

(4 pages)

Yung & DeMore, Photochemistry of Planetary Atmospheres,Ch 3

(please read up to start of Section 3.7; 18 pages. Again, challenging material; read as best you can).


AT 12 

Lecture 12

2020 Zoom



JPL 2015 Compendium

Quiz 12

Pollution of Earth's Troposphere:

   Surface Ozone

Chemistry in Context, Sec 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.9, 1.10, 1.11, 1.12, 1.15 & Conclusion, and 4.3

(26 pages)


Air Pollution and COVID-19

AT 13

Lecture 13

2020 Zoom



Green Chemistry, Chapter 3.2 (all but Sections 3.2.4 & 3.2.5)*

Quiz 13


Lecture 13 catch-up:

Will greatly appreciate

if students watch this 18 minute masterpiece (ha ha)


Lecture 13 catch-up



Pollution of Earth's Troposphere:

   Acid Rain & Aerosols

Chemistry in Context, Sec 6.0, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.6, 6.7, 6.10, 6.11, 6.12, 6.13, 6.14 & Conclusion

(27 pages)


Aerosols and COVID-19

Please watch first 7 min, 10 sec


NY Times article

AT 14

Lecture 14

2020 Zoom


  Green Chemistry, Chapter 3.2 (Sections 3.2.4 & 3.2.5)*

Milton et al., Influenza Virus Aerosols in Human Exhaled Breath: Particle Size, Culturability, and Effect of Surgical Masks, PNAS, 2013

Aerosol/COVID-19 news article

Another aerosol COVID-19 news article

Quiz 14


Pollution of Earth's Stratosphere:

   Mid-Latitude Ozone Depletion

Chemistry in Context, Sec 2.8, 2.9

(7 pages)

20 QAs Ozone (Q3, 5 to 8, 12 to 15)

(27 pgs; Q7 & Q14 had also been assigned for Lecture 2, so there are 21 pgs of new material)

AT 15

Paper Desc 


Lecture 15

2020 Zoom



Green Chemistry, Chapter 3.3 (Sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 3.3.3, and 3.3.5)*

Entire 20 QAs Ozone

Video 1 (only part was shown in class)

Video 2

Quiz 15


Pollution of Earth's Stratosphere:

   Polar Ozone Depletion

Chemistry in Context, Sec 2.10, 2.11, 2.12 &

2.13 (Conc) (9 pages)

20 QAs Ozone (Q9, 10, & 11)

(12 pages)

Antarctic Ozone 2020

Great if you can also watch the video on the NASA press release. Please note at the 2 min 42 sec mark, the narrator says "around the year 2070" while the caption states "around the year 2017".

I've let NASA know of this error, which will hopefully soon by fixed.

AT 16

Lecture 16

2020 Zoom



Green Chemistry, Chapter 3.3 (Section 3.3.4)*

Rex et al., 2006

Manney et al., 2011

Arctic Ozone 2020


Video 1 (only 35:15 to 36:40 was shown in class)


Video 2 (only 0:35 to 2:56 was shown in class)


Video 3 (I could listen to this swoosh of the NASA ER-2 takeoff all day long!)


Video 4 (only 0:04 to 0:24

was shown in class;

please watch rest of this video)

Quiz 16


Pollution of Earth's Stratosphere:

   Ozone Recovery and Chemistry/Climate   


20 QAs Ozone (Q20)

(4 1/4 pages)



Lecture 17

2020 Zoom



Chapter 3.3, Stratospheric Ozone Depletion and Recovery (Section 3.3.6)*

Revell et al., 2012

Dhomse et al., 2018

MOSAiC Video

MOSAiC Website w/ Daily Updates

Quiz 17 


Review of Lectures 10 to 17 in preparation for the

 Second Exam

No Reading


Review B

2020 Zoom


Problem Set 3 due today   No Quiz

Second Exam:

Will cover first Lectures 10 to 17 as well as first third Problem Set


On line, open book, fixed time.  Can take at your convenience, as described in class, in one sitting between a specified start and end time.

433 students are responsible for the material covered in Lectures 10 to 17 and all associated readings.  Please note the focus of this exam will be Lectures 9 to 17: it is possible there could be some element of the exam that covers a concept introduced in the first 9 lectures.


Link to exam:
Exam 2

633 students are responsible for all of the 433 readings (as detailed to the left) plus all of the items marked above with an asterisk


Kyoto Protocol, Paris Climate Agreement, Fossil Fuel Reserves, World Energy Needs, and The Need for Renewable Energy

Chemistry in Context,

Sections 3.11,

4.2, 4.4 & 4.5, 4.11 & 4.12 (Conclusion)

(23 pages)

Paris Beacon of Hope Sections 3.1, 4.1, and 4.2

(14 pages)

AT 18

Lecture 18

2020 Zoom



Peak Oil Wikipedia

Pacala & Socolow, 2004

IPCC 2007 FAQ (question 10.3)

Work Energy Outook Executive Summary, 2020

Quiz 18



6 pm

Review of Problem Set #3 and Second Exam No Reading No AT

2020 Zoom


(must advance to 7 min, 24 sec mark: sorry)

    No Quiz


Renewable Energy I: Solar, Hydro and Wind

Chemistry in Context,

Sec 8.7, 8.8 & 8.9 (Conc) (11 pages)

Olah, Sec 8.1 to 8.5

AT 19

Lecture 19

2020 Zoom



Wind: NREL

Hydro: Grand Coulee Dam

Solar: Univ Park Community Solar

Quiz 19

Lecture 19 catch-up:

Will greatly appreciate

if students watch this XX minute video sometime this week


Lecture 19 catch-up




Renewable Energy II: Biofuels, Ethanol and Algae

Chemistry in Context,

Sec 4.9, 4.10

(7 pages)


Olah, Sec 8.6

(13 pages)


McElroy, The Ethanol Illusion

(4 pages)

AT 20

Lecture 20

2020 Zoom



Wigmosta et al., WRR, 2011

Quiz 20
12/03 Fracking Fracking Debate: Please read main page plus at least one "no" and one "yes" position statement in response to "is fracking a good idea?"

Howarth, 2014

please read the "Introduction" as well as the section entitled "How Much Methane is Emitted by Natural Gas Systems"

AT 21

Lecture 21

2020 Zoom



Howarth, 2014

(633 students please read rest of this paper)

Allen et al., 2013

Schneising et al., 2014

Quiz 21
12/08 Nuclear Energy & The Hydrogen Economy

Chemistry in Context, Chapter 7 (except for Secs 7.2 & 7.6) as well as Section 8.6

Olah, Sec 9.3 to 9.6

AT 22 

Lecture 22

2020 Zoom


Problem Set 4 due today

(at midnight)

Chemistry in Context,

Sec 7.2 & 7.6


Olah, Sec 8.8 (Intro), 8.8.1 & 8.8.2

Quiz 22
12/10 Geo-engineering of Climate

Crutzen GeoEng Essay

IEEE GeoEng Overview


Lecture 23

2020 Zoom


633 Paper Due

Tilmes et al., 2008

GeoTimes GeoEng Debate

Quiz 23


6 pm

Review of

Problem Set #4

No Reading No AT

2020 Zoom


    No Quiz

No Final Exam

Please complete Learning Outcome Quizzes for Lectures 18 to 23, which replaces the final exam.

  Problem sets due on the date listed

* Reading strongly suggested for students enrolled in AOSC / CHEM  633

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3. Grade Policy

The overall grades will be based on problems sets (30%), admission tickets (30%), two in-class exams (13.33%) each, and the final exam (13.34%). In addition, students enrolled in AOSC / CHEM 633 are required to write a research paper that is 5 to 8 pages long (single spaced; length does not include figures or references) on a topic of their choosing related to the material covered in class.  Grade on the paper will be factored into their overall grade at a proportion equal to the weight of each exam (i.e. for graduate students, each exam and the paper will be worth 10% each of the overall grade). Students enrolled in 633 may also have an extra question on various problem sets.

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4. Admission Tickets

To encourage completion of the reading assignments prior to class, there is an admission ticket to be completed on ELMS prior to the the start of each class (with the exception of the first lecture). The admission ticket (AT) is a short series of questions drawn from the reading. Each ticket will be graded in a prompt manner. The lowest three AT scores will be dropped. The overall AT grade counts 30% towards the final course grade.  The ATs require a considerable amount of effort, reflected in the 30% weight towards the final grade.

In many cases, the answer(s) to the admission ticket question(s) will be worked into the lecture. Hence, the requirement that admission ticket solutions be complete in prior to the start of lecture. Late submissions of admission ticket solutions are not accepted unless there is an exceptional circumstance. Again, these questions are designed to motivate completion of the assigned reading prior to lecture, which is an important component of learning.

Admission tickets will be posted on this website at least 24 hours prior to the start of each lecture. If an admission ticket for a particular lecture is not posted by 2 pm the day prior to a particular lecture, there will be no admission ticket for that class. Also, if an item other than an admission ticket link appears in the admission ticket column for a particular lecture, there will no admission ticket for that class meeting.

Please remember to hit the ''refresh'' button to see the latest version of this website each time you visit, as we intend to update the website file frequently during the course.

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5. Additional Readings

Additional readings are provided for many lectures. This material is provided to allow interested students to read further about a particular topic. The material in these additional readings will not form the sole basis of any exam question, nor will this material be of purposeful advantage for the successful completion of the problem sets. However, learning of the course material will be enhanced for those with time to complete the additional readings.

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6. Collaboration Policy

We encourage reliance on the assigned reading and discourage use of search engines for the completion of the Admission Ticket questions.  At the same time, we also understand the utility of search engines and understand they provide a useful resource. Regardless, the material you turn in for Admission Tickets and Problem Sets should reflect your understanding of the material and only your work. We encourage discussion among classmates of general course concepts, but details of how to answer particular admission ticket or problem set questions is not meant to be a group effort among classmates. Rather, you are strongly encouraged to interact with Ross for help in answering Admission Ticket or Problem Set questions. After material has been returned, you are welcome to discuss solutions with other students. Also, it is fine to prepare for the exams by discussing class material with other students. We take care to change admission ticket, problem set, and exam questions every year, in part to keep material fresh but also to discourage any benefit to students who have access to material passed down from prior years.

Simply put: it is not permissible to copy solutions for Admission Tickets and Problem Sets from other students or from files for this class maintained by prior students. Exam questions for this class will not be a repeat of questions from prior exams.

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7. Office Hours

Office Hours:

Ross: By appointment; please send an email to arrange

Also, please note:

Just prior to class is generally not a good time for interacting with Ross, because he is typically focused on preparing for that day's lecture.


Just after class on Thursdays is also not ideal, sorry to state, because the AOSC Dept seminar is held each Thurs at 3:30 pm.

Ross does strive to be accessible throughout the semester. Please either drop by his office (most afternoons are fine) or email him to set up a time to meet.

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Website last updated on Tuesday, 15 December 2020