Skip to main content

Atmospheric Chemistry

Atmospheric chemistry research at the University of Maryland focuses on quantification of the effect of human activity on atmospheric ozone and aerosols. Interestingly, pollution leads to higher levels of tropospheric ozone (so-called “bad ozone”, because ozone in the lower atmosphere is harmful to human health and agriculture) and, at the same time, pollution also leads to reduced levels of stratospheric ozone (so-called “good ozone”, because ozone in the upper atmosphere protects life from harmful solar ultra-violet radiation). Aerosols, particularly small size particles produced by combustion, pose a significant health risk, especially for children and the elderly. Atmospheric aerosols are also important for the radiative forcing of climate: aerosols caused by pollution can either warm or cool the surface, depending on the composition and optical properties of the particles.


Storm trajectories - 3D models

Air parcel trajectories computed from wind fields simulated by high-resolution cloud-resolved WRF model simulations for three storms observed during the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry field program. Credit: Ken Pickering.

Below we provide real-time information on surface ozone, aerosols composed of particles smaller than 2.5 micron diameter (PM2.5), and total column ozone (reflecting mainly the amount of ozone in the stratosphere) at College Park, Maryland. The Air Quality Index and UV Index, which reflect the cleanliness of the air we breathe and the time it takes to sunburn, are derived from the geophysical parameters that are the focal point of our research.


Thunderstorm over Oklahoma, seen from a plane.

Photo of thunderstorm cloud over Oklahoma taken from a NASA DC-8 aircraft during the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry field program. Credit: Ken Pickering.


Maryland Air Quality Data

Current Surface Pressure Analysis

UV Yesterday and Today

Forecast Total Ozone


Potential Research Topics/Projects for Prospective Graduate Students:


Past Dissertations


Courses Relevant to Atmospheric Chemistry

  • AOSC 433, Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate
  • AOSC 620, Physics and Chemistry of the Atmosphere I (AOSC Core)
  • AOSC 621, Physics and Chemistry of the Atmosphere II (AOSC Core)
  • AOSC 637, Atmospheric Chemistry (Advanced)
  • AOSC 652, Analysis Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
  • CHEM 474, Environmental Chemistry

Link to Official UMD Schedule of Classes


Associate Research Scientist
Assistant Professor
MEES Director
Adjunct Professor
Adjunct Professor
Assistant Research Professor
Graduate Student
Professor Emeritus
Research Professor
Postdoctoral Associate
Adjunct Professor
Research Professor
Assistant Research Scientist