Research Fellows Directory
Professor Paul Palmer
University of Edinburgh
I am an atmospheric physicist who develops simple, falsifiable models, embodying the necessary physics, chemistry and biology, to understand observations of the land-surface, oceans and the atmosphere. My specialty is to relate variations of space-borne observations of trace gases and aerosol particles to surface processes and atmospheric chemistry. Studying the links between different components of the Earth system allows me to study Earth’s atmosphere in novel ways.
Atmospheric variations of a trace gas or aerosol particle generally reflect changes in atmospheric transport, regional patterns of surface emissions and uptake, and atmospheric chemistry. The objective is to attribute these changes to particular processes, but without additional information this objective is often difficult to achieve. Using a physical model or additional data helps to disentangle the competing processes.
Some of my work is still focused on addressing fundamental scientific gaps in our understanding of the Earth system. For instance, inferring the geographic distribution and magnitude of natural CO2 and CH4 sources and uptake that are consistent with satellite observations. As the scientific maturity of this work increases so will its benefits to developing effective climate mitigation strategies. Other work is more applied. For example, relating plume measurements of chemically reactive trace gases emitted by wildfires to downwind surface ozone production, particularly as the plume intercepts an upwind urban plume that will have its own mixture of reactive trace gases. How much of the ozone produced as a result of the plumes colliding can be attributed to the fire and to the urban environment? I have also begun to apply my expertise to explore other planetary atmospheres within and outside the solar system in collaboration with colleagues in astrophysics. This is a particularly exciting area with the promise of new measurements that will become available over the next few years.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)