Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Emily V. Fischer
ATM S 358
Seattle Campus

Fundamentals of Atmospheric Chemistry

Review of basic principles of physical chemistry; evolution and chemical composition of earth's atmosphere; half-life, residence and renewal time; sources, transformation, transport and sinks of gases in the troposphere; atmospheric aerosols; chemical cycles; air pollution; stratospheric chemistry. Recommended: CHEM 142; MATH 126; PHYS 123. Offered: Sp.

Class description

This course provides an overview of the processes that control atmospheric chemical composition. The course begins with an overview of several introductory topics: measures of atmospheric composition, atmospheric structure and transport, and chemical kinetics. The remainder of the course is focused on the impact of human activities on atmospheric composition. The following outstanding environmental issues are covered: stratospheric ozone depletion, remote and urban air pollution, acid rain, and the role of atmospheric chemistry in the earth’s climate system.

Student learning goals

Understand quantitatively how emissions, transport, chemistry and deposition impact atmospheric chemical composition.

Explain the chemical and physical mechanisms behind ozone depletion, air pollution and acid rain from the molecular to global scales.

Develop skills to evaluate discussions of air pollution and climate change based on scientific evidence and organized knowledge.

General method of instruction

The course is based on 2 lectures a week, and each lecture will target specific concepts as outlined above. Most concepts will be accompanied by real-world examples from either the scientific literature or current events. Students will be asked to participate by working in groups to answer conceptual questions posed throughout the lecture.

Recommended preparation

The course is aimed at science majors. It is strongly recommended that students have taken Math 126, Physics 123, and Chem 142 (or the equivalents).

Class assignments and grading

Problem Sets will generally be assigned on a weekly basis. There will be 2 Midterm Exams and 1 Final Exam.

Grades are determined from the total number of points obtained relative to the course mean. The course mean is typically set at 2.8 - 2.9 (B- to B).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Emily V. Fischer
Date: 02/01/2010