CSD: Understanding Our Complex Atmosphere

Issues Overview Illustration

The Chemical Sciences Division (CSD) merged programs of the Aeronomy Laboratory and the Environmental Technology Laboratory on October 1, 2005, as part of the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL).

ESRL CSD is an atmospheric research laboratory in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) / Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR).

ESRL CSD is located in Boulder, Colorado. The Division is led by Director A.R. Ravishankara. The Division's approximately 120 scientists, engineers, students, postdoctoral researchers, and support staff are engaged in research that provides a sound scientific basis for decisions made in industry and government related to climate change understanding, air quality improvement, and ozone layer protection. Over 50% of the staff are employees of NOAA's Joint Institute with the University of Colorado, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). The Division also has staff members who are employees of NOAA's Joint Institute with Colorado State University, the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA).

ESRL CSD conducts scientific research aimed at discovering, understanding, and quantifying the processes that govern the chemical reactions of Earth's atmosphere that are needed to improve the capability to predict its behavior. Chemical reactions and radiative processes (heating, cooling, and reactions) drive atmospheric change. Their identification and characterization are a fundamental necessity for building better models of the atmosphere and predicting the behavior of regional and global phenomena, which is at the heart of NOAA's mission.

ESRL CSD scientists conduct investigations of the atmospheric processes under controlled conditions in the laboratory, carry out field measurements in a variety of environments, and use diagnostic models for analyses and interpretations. CSD also assists the scientific community in its periodic efforts to assess the current state of scientific understanding and to interact with those who use this information, describing it in "user-friendly" terms. In this regard, a CSD researcher co-chairs the climate-science Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the Lab hosts its Technical Support Unit. A CSD researcher also co-chairs the international scientific panel associated with the United Nations Montreal Protocol agreement on the ozone layer.