Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry

Welcome to
the Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry

Research at the Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry advances understanding of atmospheric trace gas and aerosol chemistry, atmosphere/biosphere exchange of trace gases, and long term changes in atmospheric composition and chemistry - from the laboratory to the field and at local to global scales.

Over more than 20 years, we have established the most intensive atmospheric composition and chemistry research and training program in Australian universities. We collaborate widely in Australian and international atmospheric science communities including other universities, CSIRO, ANSTO, BOM, federal and state government departments and international networks.

Current PhD Opportunities

The Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry is currently offering opportunities for up to two highly motivated PhD students to work on the project Tackling Atmospheric Chemistry Grand Challenges in the Southern Hemisphere. The positions will remain open until filled and start dates are flexible, but preference will be given to applicants who apply before July 21, 2018 and can commence as soon as possible thereafter. Detailed information, including application requirements, are available in the position description.

Recent CAC News

July 2018: CAC PhD student Beata Bukosa represented the School of Chemistry at the faculty round of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. As the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health Judge's Winner, she was chosen to represent the faculty at the final round of UOW's 3MT competition with the other faculty round winners. Her talk title was Missing pieces: Imitating our Earth system, and she talked about the importance of greenhouse gas measurements and modelling in Australia.

July 2018: CAC Director Clare Murphy has been appointed Section Editor-in-Chief for "Air Quality" for the journal Atmosphere.

June 2018: Celia Lavigne, a visiting intern student from France, has joined CAC for the next 4 months to work with the new BAASS.

June 2018: CAC has just taken possession of a major new instrument for atmospheric composition measurements funded by a UOW Major Equipment Grant and the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub! The Biogenic Ambient Atmospheric Sampling System (BAASS) comprises a Markes pre-concentration/injection system and an Agilent Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer. It is currently deployed at ANSTO at Lucas Heights and is undergoing initial testing to enable measurements of the chemicals emitted by trees (biogenic volatile organic compounds or VOCs). There is growing recognition of the importance of these biogenic emissions on atmospheric chemistry and air quality within urban air-sheds (especially in cities surrounded by densely forested regions). Within Australia, many of the major cities have very high levels of atmospheric VOCs that are predominantly emitted by vegetation within the cities and emissions originating from nearby natural forested regions. These chemicals react in the atmosphere leading to increased concentrations of fine particulates and ozone, causing poor air quality and adverse health impacts.

June 2018: Alan Griffiths from ANSTO has just joined the Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry as an honorary fellow. Alan completed his undergraduate work in physics and oceanography in Tasmania, then moved to ANU to complete a PhD studying scramjets. This atmospheric theme has since taken over his professional career, as he now studies the use of stable and radioactive elements to trace atmospheric motion – and has already been involved with members of CAC studying the release of greenhouse gases from farmland using radon as a tracer. This interest will overlap with work on air quality within the research group.

June 2018: A new paper on aerosol particle distributions led by CAC PhD student Doreena Dominick was published in Atmospheric Environment. The study found that particle number concentrations measured during the aerosol measurements period of the MUMBA campaign were influenced by marine and urban air. Overall, distinct sources of particle number were identified which were traffic emissions, industrial activities and marine aerosol. Biogenic sources influenced secondary organic aerosols formation. Particle number concentrations were also strongly influenced by sea breezes that carry particles from sources in and around Sydney (north easterly winds) as well as Port Kembla Steel Works and the urban areas (winds from the south). Other CAC co-authors include Stephen Wilson, Clare Paton-Walsh, and Elise-Andree Guerette.

For more updates from CAC, check out our What's Cool page.

CAC Research Themes

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Trace Gas Measurements: 

Determining the amounts, sources and sinks of atmospheric trace gases with solar remote sensing, in situ and flux measurements, including operating two sites in the TCCON and NDACC networks.

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Modelling and Analysis: 

Using global models and developing advanced analysis methods to interpret measurements, probe datasets, and test theories of atmospheric composition and chemistry.

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Laser Photochemistry and Spectroscopy: 

Investigating photodissociation action spectroscopy, radical chemistry and microdroplet dynamics using pulsed-laser spectroscopy and mass spectrometry techniques.

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Fire Emissions: 

Using remote-sensing spectrometric techniques to quantify emissions from vegetation fires to the atmosphere.

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Agricultural Emissions: 

Developing and applying novel techniques to measure greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices and identifying effective strategies to mitigate emissions from the industry.

Radiation - SIPEX

Solar Radiation and Aerosols: 

Following changes in particles in the atmosphere to understand their impact, formation, and fate.