• New Laboratories to Research Air Quality and Climate Change
    Professor A R Ravishankara from the Departments of Chemistry and Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, who performed the official opening, is pictured with Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, Professor Koen Lamberts.
  • Dr Jacqui Hamilton showing guests the new £570,000 Agilent GC-q-TOF machine, which is helping researchers to create a virtual air archive at the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories.

News & Views

New Laboratories to Research Air Quality and Climate Change

Mar 27 2014

The UK’s first dedicated laboratory building for atmospheric chemistry research has been officially opened at the University of York by Professor A R Ravishankara from the Departments of Chemistry and Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.

The Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories has been supported by a £1.25 million grant from the Wolfson Foundation and a major donation from a benefactor. Professor Ravishankara also delivered a public lecture, ‘Ozone Layer Depletion and the Montreal Protocol: Can this protocol be pushed further?’ at the Ron Cooke Hub to mark the opening. In his lecture, he described the evolution of the science of the ozone layer over the past four decades and related this to the international and national policy changes in limiting, curbing, and eliminating the emissions of ozone depleting substances.

The new laboratories will enable York's atmospheric chemistry research teams, including post-doctoral researchers, external research staff including from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Defra, as well as postgraduates and undergraduates undertaking research projects to be brought together for the first time in one building.

Professor Alastair Lewis, from the University’s Department of Chemistry and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, led the development of the project.  “As well as bringing together the atmospheric research teams from the Department of Chemistry, the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories will provide an experimental and modelling infrastructure for interdisciplinary research across the University. The shared workspace has been specifically designed to enhance science-to-policy translation and further increase our active engagement with UK businesses.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation, said: "The Wolfson Foundation promotes and supports excellence and we are delighted again to be able to support the University of York. The University's research in atmospheric chemistry is exceptionally strong. It is an area of great significance and yet, despite this, there is a relatively paucity of outstanding groups working in this field in the UK."

The laboratories include facilities for trace gas measurements and chemical metrology; studies of aerosol and gas phase processes; atmosphere-biosphere exchange, and computer modelling of chemical mechanisms and atmospheric transport.

Atmospheric chemists at York were recently awarded nearly £208,000 from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to invest in new computing infrastructure to develop a ‘virtual air’ archive. This will allow them to perform retrospective analysis of stored samples of air.

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