Lecturer and Group Leader, Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge
The motivation for Dr Harris’ research is to understand the chemical and dynamical factors that determine changes in atmospheric composition: “These are fascinating as scientific problems in their own right and are also important for global environmental issues such as stratospheric ozone depletion and climate change. In the past, scientists have concentrated on relatively short term chemical processes (seconds to weeks); it is now more important than ever to understand how atmospheric composition is influenced by longer-term processes (weeks to years).”
A wealth of measurements exists that has been collected in global monitoring networks, during focussed field campaigns and by satellite instruments. Great opportunities exist to exploit these data to understand a range of atmospheric problems. Dr Harris’ approach is to analyse and interpret the available measurements, collaborating closely with the atmospheric modelling (Prof. Pyle) and measurement (Prof. Jones and Dr Kalberer) groups in the Chemistry Department of the University.
In addition to interpreting existing observations, Dr Harris has a small group developing and constructing instruments capable of running autonomously in order to make observations for months and years at a time. These custom-built instruments will be used to make measurements of short-lived halocarbons and hydrocarbons at sites in the West Pacific as well as on commercial container ships. There are very few measurements in these places and these instruments will operate for months and years. The observations are thus valuable in their own right, and are being used to estimate emissions of these compounds.