AOSC 434 Air pollution Course Outline
AOSC 434

Air Pollution

Department of
Atmospheric and Oceanic Science

University of Maryland

Spring Semester 2021

Prof. Russell Dickerson Course Instructor
Departments of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science & Chemistry

Brief Description: Basic concepts in physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. Production, transformation, transport, and removal of air pollutants. The problems of photochemical smog, the greenhouse effect & climate change, stratospheric ozone, acid rain, and visibility. Analytical techniques for gases and particles. Numerical simulation of air pollution. Health and environmental effects of air pollution in the developed and developing world. Prerequisites: CHEM 131, MATH 241, or consent of the instructor.

Office Hours: MWF 13:00 to 14:50pm (or just send an email) ATL2413

Unavailable Hours: MWF 11 to noon. Thrs. 3:30-5:30 PM.


Class Meets MWF 12:00 to 12:50pm

Room 2110 Chem Engin Building

Moving from Tu/Th to MWF requires two weekly lectures to be spread out over three days.

Lecture Dates subject to snow-day updates.

LectureDateTopicReading (below) & Comments
1Mon 1/25Introduction, Pollutant SpeciesJ Ch. 1; S&P Ch. 1&2
2Wed 1/27Aqueous & Gas-phase ChemistryFP Ch. 1 S&P Ch. 7
3Fri 1/29Catch UpCatch Up
4Mon 2/1Atmospheric Physics; InversionsJ Ch. 1,2; S&P Ch 16
5Wed 2/2/EM Radiation, Climate S&P Ch. 4; WW Ch. 7,8
6Fri 2/4Catch UpCatch Up
7Mon 2/8Thermodynamics and CombustionGC Ch. 7
8Wed 2/10 Combustion & EquilibriumClass Notes
9Fri 2/12Catch UpCatch Up
10Mon 2/15 Kinetics: Rates, Order, LifetimesJ Ch. 9; FP Ch. 4-8
11Wed 2/17 Activation E, Arrhenius, Steady StateGC Ch. 7; WW Ch. 6, 8
12Fri 2/19Catch UpCatch Up
13Mon 2/22 Photocemical Smog, OzoneJ Ch. 12; S Ch. 1-4; FP Chapt 9, 10
14Wed 2/24 Internal Combustion Engines.WW Ch. 8, 9
15Fri 2/26Catch UpCatch Up
16Mon 3/1 Zeldovich Mechanism & PhotochemistryGC Ch. 8, 16
17Wed 3/3 NMHC & Free Radical Reactions. Sinks of Air PollutantsClass Notes
ReviewFri 3/5 Course Review (Attendance Optional)Class Notes
Exam IMon 3/8 Mid-Term ExaminationOpen-Book
18Wed 3/10 Particulate Pollution S Ch. 7; FP Ch. 12; WW Ch. 5; GC Ch. 5,8
19Fri 3/12 Particulate PollutionJ. Ch. 8 etc.
Break3/14-3/21Spring BreakFort Lauderdale Tourism Board
20Mon 3/22Catch UpCatch Up
21Wed 3/24 Aerosols and Remote Sensing S Ch. 4
22Fri 3/26 Observational Techniques & Acid Deposition Class Notes
23Mon 3/29Catch UpCatch Up
24Wed 3/31 The StratosphereTBD
25Fri 4/2 Stratospheric Ozone DestructionJ Ch. 10; S Ch. 4; FP Ch. 15
26Mon 4/5Catch UpCatch Up
27Wed 4/7 Guest Lecturer: TBDJ Ch. 13; S Ch. 18; FP Ch. 11; GC Ch. 4,7,13
28Fri 4/9 Remote Sensing (Reports Due)Class Notes
29Mon 4/12Catch UpCatch Up
30Wed 4/14 Natural Gas Production (Fracking)Class Notes
ReviewFri 4/16 Review for Exam IIBring completed practice exam
Exam IIMon 4/19 Exam IIOpen-Book
Projects IWeds 5/5 Research Seminars, Students Mandatory Attandence Graded By Class
Projects IIFri 5/7 Research Seminars, StudentsGraded By Class
Projects IIIMon 5/10 Research Seminars, Students and review for final exam.Graded By Class
Projects IVMon 5/10 Research Seminars, Students and review for final exam.Graded By Class
Final ExamTBD 5/13-5/19 10:30am-12:30pm Open-Book

Downloadable files

Homework Set #1

Homework Set #2

Homework Set #3

Homework Set #4

Data Set for HW #4

Intro. Lecture..... Lecture #1

Lecture #2..... Lecture #3

Lecture #4.pptx.....

Lecture #5..... Lecture #5.htm

Lecture #6..... Lecture #7

Lecture #8.... Lecture #9A Lecture #9B

Lecture #10..... Lecture #11

Lecture #12..... Lecture #13

Lecture #15 see Special Lect..... Lecture #16 Acid Rain

Lecture #17 Stratospheric Ozone.....

Special Lecture: Aerosol Remote Sensing

Special Lecture: Remote Sensing

Special Lecture: Remote Sensing in the IR

Special Lecture: Black Carbon (soot)

Special Lecture Remote sensing of Aerosols

Special Lecture Methane

Special Lecture Fracking

Old Exam

REQUIRED TEXTS and useful websites:

[S&P] Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
J. H. Seinfeld and S. N. Pandis, Wiley-Interscience, 2006. (ISBN 0-471-72018-6)

[J] Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry,
Daniel J. Jacob, Princeton University Press, 1999.

Soft Copy Jacob's book (free).

Nice Herry's Law Page from MPI

Nice Planetary Atmos Physics Page from NASA

NASA Jet Prop Lab Kinetics and Photochem book.

Thorough summaries of the state of the science for the criteria pollutants.

Current journal articles will be handed out where appropriate.


[FP] Chemistry of the Upper and Lower Atmosphere
B.J. Finlayson-Pitts and J.N. Pitts, Jr. , Wiley-Interscience, 1999. (ISBN 0-471-88227-5)

[WW] Air Pollution: Its Origin and Control
K. Wark and C.F. Warner, Harper & Row. (ISBN 0-007-22534-X)

Atmospheric Change: An Earth System Perspective
T. Graedel & P. Crutzen.

Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey,
J. M. Wallace and P. V. Hobbs, Cambridge University Press, 2006.


Problem Sets (4 x 5 = 20%): There will be four (4) problem sets - as homework - worth a total of 20% credit toward your final course grade. You are encouraged to use all resources available to you to solve these problems, including books, journals, fellow students (discussion only - no plagiarism, please!) and your instructor.

Examinations (2 x 25 = 50%): There will be two (2) closed-book examinations based on the factual material and general concepts from the course lectures and reading materials. Each exam is worth 25% credit. If an exam is missed without prior excuse of a doctor's note, a grade of zero (0) will be recorded.

Research Project (30%): The remainder, 30%, will be obtained from a research project. Students are required to present their research as a lecture of 15 minutes maximum duration (12 minutes +3 minutes for questions) and to be prepared to answer questions from the class and be graded by the class. The objective is to inform an audience of knowledgeable scientists and engineers whose specialty lies outside the area of your research, i.e., your fellow students. Your grade for the research project and presentation will be assessed (out of the possible 30%) as follows:

Instructor assessment (written paper): 10%
Student assessment (oral presentation): 20%

All students must attend mandatory class meetings.


A brief written report must be submitted to the course instructor two weeks prior to your lecture. This should include all salient points of the lecture and copies of all the figures to be shown. A detailed outline is adequate. A good 20-minute (inclusive of question period) seminar should have no more than ten figures unless they are very simple. All major contentions of the research should be referenced in the style of the American Geophysical Union - see a copy of J. Geophys. Res. I will grade the written report and it will count for 10 out of the 30% credit for this section. Seminars will be given in the order of the last three digits of your student number (SSN).

The seminar will be graded by the instructor and the rest of the class, as detailed above. Attendance is mandatory during this phase of the class.

Factors influencing the grade include:

  • 1. Approach to the problem
  • 2. Originality
  • 3. Clarity (not showmanship)
  • 4. Completeness of research
  • 5. Discrimination of opinion from fact
  • 6. Capable responses to questions (student evaluations only)

    Factors not influencing the grade include:
  • 1. Length of written report
  • 2. Artwork
  • 3. Number of references, unless you forget some important ones

    SUGGESTED TOPICS - Research Project Seminar:
    Here are some suggested topics (in no particular order) here to get you started with your literature research, but you are encouraged to seek out a problem of special interest to you. Do not be afraid to choose an interdisciplinary, offbeat, or controversial topic, but subject your paper to your best scientific scrutiny and be prepared to defend your contentions to me, and to the class.

  • History of atmospheric chemistry
  • Atmospheric chemistry of other planets
  • Evolution of the Earth's atmosphere
  • Auroras
  • Atmospheric radioactivity
  • Biosphere-atmosphere interactions
  • Radiative transfer
  • Combustion chemistry
  • Biogenic hydrocarbons and ozone formation
  • Air Pollution and climate
  • Lightning as a natural source of NOx
  • Industrial air pollution abatement technology
  • Coupling atmospheric transport and chemistry
  • Human health effects of atmospheric pollution
  • Cloud chemistry
  • Heterogeneous chemistry
  • Chemistry and climate

    Please e-mail me your seminar subject and tentative title (you can change the title up to the day of your presentation, but must seek approval from me before you change your seminar subject) as soon as possible.


    Last updated January 23, 2018.