Study-unit Code
In all curricula
Nadia Balucani
  • Nadia Balucani
  • 42 ore - Nadia Balucani
Course Regulation
Coorte 2021
Learning activities
Attività formative affini o integrative
Academic discipline
Type of study-unit
Opzionale (Optional)
Type of learning activities
Attività formativa monodisciplinare
Language of instruction
The principal aim of this course it to offer a chemical perspective of the origin, evolution, composition and pollution of the terrestrial atmosphere. Current issues such as the greenhouse effect and climate change will also be addressed.
Reference texts
Lecture notes (ppt slides).
General Textbook: "Environmental Chemistry" C. Baird & M. Cann
More detailed textbooks: "Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry" by D.J. Jacob, Princeton University Press; "Astrochemistry" by A.M. Shaw, Wiley; "Chemistry of Atmospheres" by R.C. Wayne, Oxford Science Publications; "Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics" by J. H. Seinfeld & S. N. Pandis- Wiley- Interscience
Educational objectives
It is expected that the students who attended the course:
1) know the physical and chemical principles governing the nature and composition of Earth's atmosphere today;
2) know the principles of physical, chemical and biological processes that have influenced the evolution of Earth's atmosphere to its current composition;
3) know the effects of human activities on the delicate balance between chemical species that regulates the terrestrial atmosphere;
4) know how to correlate the main atmospheric pollution problems (greenhouse effect, photochemical smog, ozone depletion and the ozone hole, acid rain) with the release of certain chemical species in air by human activities;
5) are able to identify the chemical techniques and chemical and physical principles necessary to understand and, possibly, control air pollution;
6) are able to use simple computer models (one-box model) of atmospheric chemistry.
To successfully follow the contents of the course and achieve the learning goals, the student should already master the following themes:
1) Gas laws (essential)
2) Atomic and molecular spectroscopy, with emphasis on vibrational spectroscopy (important)
3) Chemical kinetics, elementary reactions, photochemistry (important)
4) Quantum chemistry (useful)
Teaching methods
Learning verification modality
An oral exam consisting of a discussion lasting about 30-40 minutes, aimed at ascertaining the level of knowledge and understanding achieved by the student on the contents listed in the program. The oral exam will also assess the communication skills and expression capacity of the student
Obiettivi Agenda 2030 per lo sviluppo sostenibile
1) General characteristics of the atmosphere. Chemical composition and structure of the atmosphere. Origin of Earth's atmosphere (nucleosynthesis in the early Universe, stellar nucleosynthesis, the life cycle of stars, the formation of solar systems, the formation of the inner and Jovian planets). Secondary nature of the atmosphere, evolution of the atmosphere and interaction with the biosphere.
2) Physical parameters: trends of pressure and temperature with increasing altitude. Energy balance of the planet Earth and its atmosphere. The Black Body Emission of Sun and Earth. Role of solar photons and terrestrial photons in controlling the temperature of the air. Thermal infrared absorption and greenhouse gases. Vertical and horizontal transport. Scattering of light by molecules and aerosols suspended in the air.
3) Photochemistry and kinetics applied to the study of the atmosphere: processes induced by UV photons on moelcular oxygen, ozone, nitrogen compounds present in the air, volatile organic compounds common in the air and freon. Transition and correlation rules. Forbidden processes and their role in atmospheric chemistry. Mono-, bi- and ter-molecular reations of atmospheric interest. Determination of quantum yields and rate coefficients in laboratory experiments.
4) Chemistry of the Stratosphere: ozone layer, Chapman cycle and additional natural cycles. Effects of human activities and consequent reduction of the ozone layer. The ozone hole over the Antarctic Circle.
5) Chemistry of the Troposphere: the role of the OH radical, its main production and consumption mechanisms. The oxidation of CO, methane and other hydrocarbons. The role of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxydes in producing the photochemical smog.
6) Atmospheric models (one box, puff). Biogeochemical cycles of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon.
7) The role of heterogeneous and multiphase processes.
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