NKEK11002U Atmospheric Environmental Chemistry

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Chemistry with a minor subject
MSc Programme in Environmental Science


Atmospheric Chemistry; from air pollution to climate change
The course covers seven topics:

  1. Atmospheric photochemistry and kinetics
  2. Stratospheric chemistry
  3. Tropospheric chemistry
  4. Aerosol physics
  5. Aerosol chemistry
  6. Atmospheric structure and modeling; digitalization
  7. Climate and climate change; sustainability
Learning Outcome

The student should:

  • possess general background knowledge of atmospheric chemistry.
  • be able to describe atmospheric chemistry including sources, transformations and fates of air pollution in both the gas and particle phase
  • be able to describe stratospheric chemistry and the mechanisms underlying ozone formation and destruction
  • know the chemistry occurring in water droplets and account for the physical chemistry that determines how well a given chemical is taken up into the liquid phase
  • know the principles governing particle formation, growth, activation and fate in the atmosphere
  • discuss the properties of the variety of particle sizes found in the atmosphere including sources, lifetimes and key chemical components.
  • be able to discuss climate change including the mechanisms and causes of anthropogenic climate forcings and threats to sustainability
  • be able to use and discuss theories and models of the atmosphere such as the grey atmosphere model, box models and plume models, use of computer models and tools; digitalisation



Describe radiative balance including the properties of solar and earthly emission of light. Describe the greenhouse effect and know the most important greenhouse gases. Describe the kinetics and mechanism of the degradation of different chemicals in the atmosphere including reaction and photolysis rates and lifetimes. Describe the systems of reactions in the troposphere and stratosphere including sources, initiation, propagation, termination, sinks, and radical families. Describe the sources, transformations and fate of atmospheric particles.


The student will understand the physics and chemistry of the atmospheric system including the structure and circulation of the atmosphere, emissions sources of pollution, chemical transformations and impacts of pollution, and the deposition of reaction products at the surface. In addition, the flow of energy through the atmosphere from short wave solar radiation, latent heat, and exiting long wave ratiation. In addition the student will understand the transport and chemical lifetimes and typical concentrations of key atmopsheric components.  These components include ozone, methane, carbon monoxide, VOC, aerosol, and radicals including the HOx and ClOx families in the stratosphere and troposphere. Finally the student will understand how anthropogenic pollution results in a changes including air pollution and climate change.


To achieve the grade of 12 the student should master the material and goals described in the course description and that are part of the exam with no or only a few minor mistakes. The student should demonstrate understanding of the physical and chemical processes underlying atmospheric properties. The student should demonstrate understanding of specific formulas with relevant units, and chemical reaction equations. The student should know of any relevant assumptions behind these equations. The student shall demonstrate an overview of the subject and be able to explain connections between the seven topics. The student should be able to explain the flow of chemicals and material through the atmospheric environment from emission to deposition, and evaluate the environmental impact locally and globally. The student should have a feeling for which parts of the subject are well known and which are less well developed.

  1. Modeling of Atmospheric Chemistry by Brasseur and Jacob, Cambridge University Press 2017
  2. Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry by D. J. Jacob (available online)
  3. A few reports, notes and research articles will be provided.
Background knowledge of mathematics, physics and chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical) obtained in a Bachelors degree study of chemistry or a related subject.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Lectures and exercises
Exceptions can be made to admit students with other backgrounds, for example physicists, meteorologists, biologists, geologists, natural resources and environmental science students have enjoyed the course.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 149
  • Theory exercises
  • 21
  • Guidance
  • 7
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes (no preparation time)
Exam registration requirements

Students must be approved in all of the weekly exercises in order to take the exam. There are seven weekly exercises corresponding to the seven topics of the course seen above, one for each week. Approved means at least 70% correct.

Written aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Same as ordinary exam.

Missing/non-approved exercises must be submitted/resubmitted no later than 3 weeks before the re-exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcomes