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Recent Discoveries and Future Challenges in Atmospheric Organic Chemistry

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  • Marianne Glasius
  • Allen Goldstein, University of California at Berkeley, United States

Earth's atmosphere contains a multitude of organic compounds, which differ by orders of magnitude regarding fundamental properties such as volatility, reactivity, and propensity to form cloud droplets, affecting their impact on global climate and human health. Despite recent major research efforts and advances, there are still substantial gaps in understanding of atmospheric organic chemistry, hampering efforts to understand, model, and mitigate environmental problems such as aerosol formation in both polluted urban and more pristine regions. The analytical toolbox available for chemists to study atmospheric organic components has expanded considerably during the past decade, opening new windows into speciation, time resolution and detection of reactive and semivolatile compounds at low concentrations. This has provided unprecedented opportunities, but also unveiled new scientific challenges. Specific groundbreaking examples include the role of epoxides in aerosol formation especially from isoprene, the importance of highly oxidized, reactive organics in air-surface processes (whether atmosphere-biosphere exchange or aerosols), as well as the extent of interactions of anthropogenic and biogenic emissions and the resulting impact on atmospheric organic chemistry.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
Pages (from-to)2754-2764
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2016

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