LAC - Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry
The Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry (LAC), established 1 January 2000, is a laboratory of the Energy and Environment Research Division (ENE) at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI).
Understanding the processes determining the gas and aerosol chemistry and aerosol physics in the atmosphere in order to determine (1) the impact of energy use on the atmosphere and (2) the impact of pollution on air quality, human health, local weather and climate change.
Our laboratory consists of four interacting groups that operates cutting-edge facilities and instrumentations in the lab and in the field. We run three National facilities, two ambient observatories and an atmospheric chamber facility, that are foreseen to be included in the ACTRIS European research infrastructure. We study the impact of anthropogenic air pollution across environments ranging from cities in Europe and developing countries (e.g. India and China) to pristine areas (e.g. in polar regions and in the free troposphere). We are continuously measuring key climate variables relevant for aerosol properties at the landmark high-alpine Jungfraujoch research site in Switzerland. We simulate the processes occurring in the atmosphere in our smog chamber facility and during experiments at the CLOUD chamber at CERN. Field and laboratory data are interpreted and air pollution sources are quantified with numerical and statistical models. We collaborate with toxicologists, epidemiologists and medical doctors to understand the impact of air pollution on health.
News & Highlights
The mass concentration of volcanic ash from Iceland in European airspace
Data of the Paul Scherrer Institute from the High-Alpine Research Station Jungfraujoch yield important information.The eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland has stalled flight traffic in large parts of Europe. Decision makers had to base their decisions mainly on model calculations for the volcanic plume dispersion. How dangerous is this volcanic ash layer for planes?
News from the smog chamber: mechanisms of particle formation in the atmosphere unveiled
Up to the present time, the nucleation or new formation of particles in the atmosphere has been a great enigma. Until recently, research was based on the assumption that sulphuric acid played the central role in particle formation. However, laboratory experiments and field tests have consistently provided conflicting results. In the lab, considerably higher concentrations of sulphuric acid are required for nucleation to take place than in the atmosphere itself. Now scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have found out the cause for these conflicting results from their smog chamber. These findings will advance climate research to a significant degree.
Mystery solved: how fine particulates are formed in the air
Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute, the University of Colorado and 29 other research institutions in various countries have investigated the composition of the organic constituents of the fine particulates found in various regions of the world, and have identified the original substances from which they are formed in each case. For the first time ever, this has enabled them to explain the role played by the individual components of emissions in the development of fine particulates.