Atmospheric Chemistry & Climate - CHE00011H

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  • Department: Chemistry
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Mat Evans
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19
    • See module specification for other years: 2017-18

Module summary

This module outlines some of the chemistry and physics responsible for determining the composition of the atmosphere and how this relates to climate change.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2018-19

Module aims

The composition of the atmosphere is at the core of a range of societal ills. Climate change, air pollution and ecosystem degradation all challenge society. Mitigating these problems requires an understanding of the chemical and physical processes occurring in the atmosphere. This course will cover areas including: how the atmosphere interacts with the sun’s radiation, how pollution is moved within the atmosphere, how the Earth’s climate is controlled, what controls the composition of the atmosphere, and how particles in the atmosphere are created, lost and their climatic impact. This module is based on the foundation offered by the Yr 3 Core Atmospheric Chemistry course.

Module learning outcomes

  • the transfer of electromagnetic radiation through the atmosphere
  • the transport of compounds around the atmosphere
  • the processes controlling the current and future climate of the planet
  • the chemistry controlling the concentration of air quality and climate pollutants in the gas and aerosol phase

Module content


Radiative transfer

Incoming and outgoing radiation spectrum, atmospheric absorption, temperature of the planet


1 lecture

1x2 h computer practical


Energy balance of the planet, Hadley cells, mid-latitude weather patterns boundary layer meteorology


4 lectures

Current climate and future projections

Climate sensitivity

Climate models

Future climate


3 lectures

Chemistry of climate and air quality gases

Chemical processes controlling CH4 and O3

HOx, NOx, VOC chemistry


3 lectures

2x2 h O3 computer practicals

Chemistry and climate of aerosols

Aerosol types, chemistry, sources and sinks

Impacts on climate


4 lectures


Task Length % of module mark
Continuous Assessment
N/A 30
University - closed examination
Atmospheric Chemistry & Climate
1.5 hours 70

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
University - closed examination
Atmospheric Chemistry & Climate
1.5 hours 70

Module feedback

The closed examinations are marked typically within 10 days with mark slips (with per-question break-down) being returned to students via supervisors. Outline answers are made available via the Chemistry web pages when the students receive their marks, so that they can assess their own detailed progress/achievement. The examiners reports for each question are made available to the students via the Chemistry web pages.

Individual feedback by e-mail on the coursework will typically be provided to students within three weeks of the submission of the work.

Indicative reading

Atmospheric Chemistry: Daniel Jacob, Princeton University Press, 1999. covers much of the material in the course at roughly the correct level. It is also available online from the web link.

Atmospheric chemistry and physics : from air pollution to climate change. John H. Seinfeld Spyros N. Pandis J. Wiley provides a huge amount of detail on the various processes but is at a scientifically high level.

Chemistry of atmospheres: Richard Wayne. OUP. 2000 is a classic text and covers much of the chemical detail necessary.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.