One visible effect of fossil fuel energy consumption is the emission of gases and particles into the atmosphere. These emissions include not only carbon dioxide, but also a wide range of other reactive gases. But anthropogenic processes are not the only sources of atmospheric emissions. Many natural systems, including the oceans, volcanoes, and plants, also emit chemical compounds into the atmosphere. Once there, these compounds undergo a series of chemical reactions driven by sunlight. The addition of man-made emissions, predominantly from fossil fuel combustion, has altered the chemistry and composition of the lower atmosphere and negatively impacted air quality and climate in ways that are not fully understood. Using results from field and lab measurements of atmospheric composition and reactions we seek to elucidate the complex interplay between naturally occurring emissions and anthropogenic pollutants, and the ways in which human activities have drastically altered the air we breathe.
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