New Pathways for Particle Formation and Growth in the Atmosphere

Prof. Neil M. Donahue

Carnegie Mellon University

Monday March 4, 2024, 2 PM ET



Particles and clouds encompass most of the remaining uncertainties about climate change. Roughly one third of the present day climate forcing is hidden by aerosol cloud forcing, and the future of those aerosol cloud interactions is extremely uncertain as the world mitigates and adapts to climate change. We now understand that most atmospheric particles arise from secondary particle formation. Almost all cloud condensation nuclei reach the CCN size range because of condensational growth. We are developing a rich understanding of the kinetics and mechanisms of atmospheric particle formation, extending well beyond the notion that nucleation is always governed by sulfuric acid. In fact, most growth and often nucleation itself involves condensible organic compounds whose formation chemistry we are only beginning to understand. This talk will explore the current state of knowledge in this area and key open questions limiting our ability to predict future aerosol climate interactions.



Neil Donahue is the Thomas Lord University Professor of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, in the departments of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Engineering and Public Policy. He received an AB in Physics from Brown University and a PhD in Meteorology from MIT, working with Ron Prinn on Nonmethane Hydrocarbon Chemistry in the Remote Marine Boundary Layer. He then spent a decade working on chemical kinetics with Jim Anderson at Harvard before moving to CMU in 2000. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for Aerosol Research and has won the David Sinclair Award from AAAR as well as the Pittsburgh, Esselen, and Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Engineering awards from the American Chemical Society. He is founding Editor in Chief of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Environmental Science: Atmospheres.



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Mar 04 2024


2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


John Xun Yang