Atmospheric & Environmental Chemistry
The following staff are responsible for research in the Atmospheric and Environmental area in the School of Chemistry.
Dr. Stig Hellebust
Stig's research interests span multiple areas including i) atmospheric aerosol formation, chemistry and chemical processing, ii) using machine learning/chemometrics methods to on analyse atmospheric observational data, iii) and data linkage of air quality and population health data to investigate impact of air pollution on public health.
- Real-world measurements of multiple chemical and physical parameters relating to atmospheric constituents, both gases and particles, involved in chemical processes leading to particle formation and particle growth.
- Combining atmospheric measurement data and source apportionment modelling techniques to identify chemical profiles of particulate matter originating from different pollution sources and developing quantitative source contribution estimates.
- Indoor air chemistry and indoor air quality measurements, elucidating building and human specific sources of gases and particles.
- Investigating research data infrastructure for linking health and air quality measurements relevant to population exposure and public health impacts of air pollution.
- Working with chemistry based online instrumental methods for determination of primary biological atmospheric particles, e.g. pollen, bacteria and fungal spores.
- Heterogeneous (surface) chemistry on atmospheric particles involving interactions between gases and particles, including cloud ice crystals.
- Studying atmospheric particle growth mechanisms in the context of chemical reaction mechanisms with potential industry applications in thin film growth and functional surfaces.
Dr. Dean Venables
Dean's research interests centre on developing new spectroscopic approaches to detect trace gases, and then applying these tools to answer open questions in atmospheric chemistry. Of particular interest is the chemistry of the highly reactive radical species that drive much of the chemistry of the atmosphere, even when present at low parts-per-trillion levels. Such radicals include NO3, the dominant oxidant in the troposphere at night, as well as halogen oxide radicals, particularly BrO and IO, that are responsible for tropospheric ozone loss. Halogen-catalysed loss of ozone is most dramatically evident in the episodic depletion of tropospheric ozone during polar spring. The Venables' group is also investigating the release of iodine from seaweeds and its role in coastal particle formation.
Other projects are focussed on new methods to detect mercury in the atmosphere: new, more sensitive analytical tools are need to investigate the atmospheric speciation of mercury and understand how this important environmental pollutant is exchanged between the surface and the atmosphere.
Prof. John Wenger
Prof. Wenger leads a research group which is part of the Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry based in University College Cork. The current research interests are focussed on (i) the atmospheric degradation of volatile organic compounds, (ii) formation and characterisation of secondary organic aerosol, (iii) chemical composition and sources of atmospheric aerosol. Laboratory based experiments are performed in custom-built atmospheric simulation chambers and utilise state-of the-art techniques for on-line and off-line chemical analysis.
His research team has made significant contributions in this area through improved understanding of atmospheric degradation processes, identification of reaction pathways for secondary organic aerosol formation and development of new methods for detection of atmospheric oxidation products. The research group is now well established within the global atmospheric chemistry community and has collaborated extensively with colleagues from around Europe. John has been involved in the following EC-funded projects; EXACT, IALSI, EUROCHAMP, ACCENT and EUROCHAMP-2. Since 2008, the research group has become increasingly involved in the chemical composition of ambient aerosol, with an emphasis on single particle mass spectrometry.