Energy and Atmosphere are linked in two primary ways. First, fossil-fuel derived energy use contributes to air pollution and climate change. Second, atmospheric winds and solar radiation are major sources of renewable energy. Because atmospheric problems can be mitigated best by increasing the efficiency with which energy is used, optimizing the use of natural energy resources, and understanding the effects of energy technologies on the atmosphere, the areas of Energy and Atmosphere are naturally coupled together.
Students in this program receive a transcript designation of Atmosphere/Energy. Courses include those in energy resources, indoor and outdoor air pollution, energy efficient buildings, climate change, renewable energy, weather and storm systems, energy technologies in developing countries, energy systems, and air quality management.
Current research in the program includes projects on wind energy distribution and statistics, indoor exposure to air pollutants, the effects of a hydrogen economy on atmospheric pollution and climate, measurements of particulate matter and vehicle exhaust, hydrogen and other fuel generation by bacteria, numerical modeling of the effects of vehicles and power plants on climate, numerical weather prediction, improving the energy efficiency of buildings, improving the links between wind farms and the transmission grid, and studying the effects of aerosol particles on UV radiation and climate, among others.
Within the department, the program links to studies of water quality, environmental biotechnology, environmental fluid mechanics, sustainable construction, green buildings, and risk management. Outside the department, it links to Earth Systems, Management Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Energy Resources Engineering, Urban Studies, Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Biology, among others. In addition, the program has natural connections with the Woods Institute for the Environment, the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Environment and Resources (IPER), and the Global Climate and Energy Program (GCEP).