Emissions from the forest

In the 15th Annual Harold I. Schiff Lecture, taking place today at 2:30pm in Lecture Hall B, Computer Science & Engineering Bldg., Ralf Koppmann (right), deputy director of the Institute for Chemistry and Dynamics of the Geosphere in Jülich, Germany, will provide an overview of a unique research project known as Emission and Chemical Transformation of Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds, or ECHO. Koppmann will highlight the results of the field and simulation experiments conducted during the ECHO project.

The goal of the ECHO project was to provide a better understanding of forest stands as a complex source of reactive trace gases into the troposphere.

Forests are complex sources of biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the planetary boundary layer of the atmosphere. Previous studies estimate that global emissions of these compounds are five to 10 times higher than man-made emissions. These biogenic compounds have a significant impact on the formation of photo-oxidants in the troposphere. Since these compounds can travel quickly up through the atmosphere, they may have an impact on the chemistry of the upper troposphere. Altogether, the impact of biogenic VOC on tropospheric photochemistry, air quality, and the formation of secondary products affecting the earth’s climate on a regional and global scale, is not well understood.

The Harold I. Schiff lecture series was set up in honour of Professor Emeritus Harold I. Schiff, who was York’s founding dean of the Faculty of Science in 1968. Among his numerous achievements have been his major contributions to the development of techniques for measuring trace constituents in the upper atmosphere and to the interpretation of the physics and chemistry of the stratosphere. Prof. Schiff passed away on March 31, 2003 while on vacation in Cuba.