Scientists interested in atmospheric science are concerned with the atmosphere and its processes, as well as how it affected by both natural and anthropogenic (human) activities. Meteorology and climatology are two main sub-disciplines of atmospheric science.
Many of Dalhousie's atmospheric scientists are pursuing research related to how particulate matter finds its way into the Earth's atmosphere - and how the composition of that particulate matter is affecting climate change and human health.
Faculty and research
Dr. Rachel Chang studies the sources, transport and loss processes of particles and gases in the atmosphere in marine and polar regions. Of particular interest is using measurements of coastal and marine fog events to understand the contribution of oceanic emissions to the atmosphere and aqueous-phase chemical reactions. These results can be extrapolated to the stratus clouds that cover much of the ocean and be used to improve our understanding of how visibility varies between fog events. Other interests include investigating the sources of particles in the Arctic and carbon-cycling in permafrost regions.
James Drummond's research investigates the composition and chemistry of atmospheres, particularly measurements of atmospheres and instrumentation to make those measurements. His past and current projects have encompassed measuring the Earth's atmosphere from space for pollution and studies in the Arctic to measure the effects of climate change. One day, he hopes to develop an instrument that will orbit Mars to measure its atmosphere.
Dr. Tom Duck's research group uses LIDAR (laser radar) remote-sensing instruments to study radiative transfer and climate in the High Arctic at Eureka, Nunavut. The measurements gathered are used to gain insight into cloud and aerosol processes and their interactions with water vapour and temperature.
Dr. Ian Folkins' main interest is tropical meteorology, and to that end, his research investigates tropical moist convection, rainfall, and chemistry by studying tropical disturbances like hurricanes as well as other types of large coherent patterns. His lab members uses measurements from satellites, ballons, and aircraft to construct better corrective parameterizations, which are then tested in global forecast and climate models. Dr. Folkins' long-term goal with his research is to improve weather prediction in the tropics.
Dr. Glen Lesins' research investigates clouds, aerosols and radiation in the Arctic. The Canadian Arctic is expected to undergo significant climate change in the coming decades; Dr. Lesins believes many scientific questions related to this situation need to be answered. By analyzing the measurements being taken by a suite of instruments at Eureka on Ellesmere Island, Dr. Lesins is trying to better understand the role that clouds, water vapour, and aerosols play in determining the transfer of solar and terrestrial radiation in the Arctic atmosphere.
Atmospheric composition and satellite remote sensing comprise the main areas of interest in Dr. Randall Martin's research. Human activity is altering atmospheric composition with substantial implications for air quality and climate. To gain further insight into the composition of the lower atmosphere, satellite remote sensing can be used to monitor regions and phenomena that are otherwise difficult to observe. Global chemical transport models offer the three-dimensional perspective needed to analyze the vast amount of information provided by satellites. In situ and ground-based observations provide a wealth of additional information, such as vertical profiles and atmospheric constituents that cannot be observed from satellite.
Dr. Martin and his multi-disciplinary research group are using space-based observations, global models, and in situ measurements to better understand the processes controlling air quality and climate, with particular attention to emissions and processes controlling tropospheric ozone and aerosols.
Dr. Jeffrey Pierce and his research group focus on atmospheric aerosols and their interactions with clouds and climate. Changes in atmospheric aerosols (airborne particles) due to human-generated pollution affects Earth's climate by interacting with the Sun and Earth's radiation, and by modifying clouds. The extent to which this increased aerosol concentration has affected climate is generally regarded to be one of the most uncertain gaps in our understanding of recent climate change.
Aerosols also affect human health and decrease visibility, so it is
important to understand the processes that control aerosol
concentrations in the atmosphere in order to protect quality of life. Dr. Pierce and his group use a combination of atmospheric models from plume-scale to global-scale, in conjunction with satellite-based and field data, to better understand the aerosol-cloud-climate system.
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