Clouds and aerosols are ubiquitous in planetary atmospheres, where they impact climate, atmospheric chemistry, remote sensing, and weather. Clouds are a vital link in the global and regional weather climate and hydrological cycle. Research conducted by ATOC builds on knowledge of the fundamental set of thermodynamic and physical principles by applying them to quantitatively describe the behavior of cloud development and precipitation enhancement, and develop quantitative and qualitative analysis of thermodynamic and microphysical processes relevant for cloud development and evolution. 

Professor Friedrich’s research, for example, focuses on investigating kinematic and microphysical processes relevant for cloud formation. Professor Toohey’s research addresses the role of trace gases and aerosols on Earth’s climate, atmospheric oxidation, and air quality. Professor Toon has helped conceive, develop and lead many NASA airborne field missions aimed at understanding stratospheric volcanic clouds, stratospheric ozone loss, the effects of aircraft on the atmosphere, and the role of convective and cirrus clouds in Earth’s climate system. Professor Kay's research, for example, has investigated cloud-sea ice interactions and their impact on climate feedbacks, as well as precipitation-cloud-aerosol interactions in a warming Arctic.  Professor Wang's research focuses on observing clouds from different platforms leading to a greater understanding of cloud physical processes and improving the parameterizations of cloud-related physical processes in models.  Professor Randall's research interests include polar mesospheric clouds. She is the principal investigator on the Cloud Imaging and Particle Size (CIPS) experiment on the NASA Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite mission. Professor Schmidt research interests include spectral retrieval algorithms for cloud-aerosol layers and designing and building instrumentation for measuring cloud-aerosol-radiation processes.

Core faculty

Other researchers

Relevant courses

  • ATOC 3500 Air Chemistry and Pollution
  • ATOC 5600 Physics and Chemistry of Clouds and Aerosols

Other resources