Towards a Molecular Understanding of Atmospheric Aerosols

677. WE-Heraeus-Seminar

27 Aug - 31 Aug 2018


Physikzentrum Bad Honnef

Scientific organizers:

Prof. T. Leisner, KIT Karlsruhe • Prof. T. Koop, U Bielefeld

Environmental quality and climate change are major global challenges that society faces today. Currently, severe knowledge gaps in fundamental atmospheric processes, especially those related to aerosols, impart our predictive capabilities for future environmental development. In this seminar, the atmospheric formation, chemical aging, cloud processing and fate of aerosol particles are of particular interest, because at present we are still far from an understanding at the molecular level. This statement holds true not only for experimental laboratory studies but also for fundamental process modeling. One aim of the seminar is to foster international collaboration between researchers pursuing fundamental process modeling and those performing laboratory experiments, thus leading to significant improvements in reducing uncertainties in a key component of the atmospheric system needed to understand Earth’s complex climate system.


The atmospheric science and aerosol science community organizes numerous conferences of different scope and size addressing the above mentioned problems from a large-scale observational and/or modeling perspective. There are, however, only few opportunities for bringing together experts from various disciplines like Physics, Chemistry, Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences for an in-depth discussion and exchange of ideas addressing open questions from a fundamental, molecular process level point of view. Only recently this has been addressed by a series of dedicated biennial meetings on fundamental atmospheric physics and chemistry. Often the complexity of laboratory experiments and experimental procedures renders it difficult to compare the data to results of theoretical process modeling exercises that were developed without taking into account specific procedures of experiments. Thus cooperative efforts of modelers incorporating specific experimental procedures into their models can be more effective than independent efforts. Of course, this holds true also vice versa, i.e. for experiments and experimental designs stimulated by theoretical results from process modeling. From our personal experience often just simply more time is needed to understand the constraints inherent to both modeling and experiment in sufficient detail thus serving as a prerequisite for a successful collaboration. We plan to provide this time for questions and intense discussions and are optimistic that this will lead to more cooperation in future research on fundamental aerosol processes.

Format and topics

The conference will focus on the following six key topics, each covered by a session of about four invited talks with ample time for general discussion:

1. Aerosol Nucleation

2. Formation of Secondary Organic Aerosols

3. Aerosol optics

4. Aerosol Physical Chemistry

5. Emerging Technologies for Determination of Molecular Structure

6. Aerosols as Ice Nucleating Particles

In addition, there will be two poster sessions covering several topics each.

Further information can be found at this website