Professor Paul Crutzen ForMemRS
Paul Crutzen was a Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist who discovered that nitrogen oxides quicken the breakdown of the Earth’s ozone layer. Paul’s explanation of atmospheric chemical reactions have had an enormous impact on global awareness of environmental pollution and climate change.
Paul’s research showed that ground-level emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) affect levels of nitric oxide (NO) in the stratosphere — a region of our atmosphere that begins at about 10 kilometres above the surface of the Earth. His results made clear the links between human activity, such as the use of fertilizers, and the increasing hole in the ozone layer. Paul also proposed a method to reverse the effects of global warming by releasing particles of sulfur into the upper atmosphere, to reflect sunlight and heat back into space.
Paul shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland for their work on the chemistry of ozone. In 1982, he co-wrote The atmosphere after a nuclear war: Twilight at noon, a paper that introduced the concept of the ‘nuclear winter’.
Professor Paul Crutzen ForMemRS died on 28 January 2021.
Interest and expertise
- Engineering, environmental
- Earth and environmental sciences
- Atmospheric physics and meteorology, Atmospheric chemistry, Climate sciences, Ionospheric physics, Chemical oceanography
- Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
- Ecology (incl behavioural ecology), Agricultural and forest science, Soil science
- Public understanding of science