Bhutan Forest Study
January, 2004

Steven C. Wofsy

Abbott Lawrence Rotch Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science (617-495-4566; FAX 617-495-2768)


Human beings have enormous impact on the chemical composition of the atmosphere, both regionally and globally. Combustion of fossil fuel, clearing of forests, agriculture, and chemical industry have caused concentrations of key atmospheric trace gases (CO2, CH4, N2O) to increase over the past 200 years, with accelerating change in the last 50 years. Emissions of industrial halocarbons (CFCs, such as CF2Cl2, "CFC-12") have caused stratospheric ozone to decrease. These changes may have serious impacts, such as climatic warming, regional and urban air pollution, and increased exposure to solar ultraviolet light.

Professor Wofsy's work is motivated by the need for scientific information and analysis to make wise decisions on the future development of the world's resources. We need quantitative information defining the sources and sinks for important atmospheric gases, and deeper understanding of underlying processes and of the rates for chemical transformations and transport in the atmosphere. We need to understand the interactions between the gases in the atmosphere and the vegetation, soils, and oceans at the earth's surface. We must learn how ecosystems respond to climate change, and learn how to manage biotic resources better.

Prof. Wofsy and colleagues study CO2, CH4, CO, and other important atmospheric gases at long-term measurement stations, located from the subarctic to the equator, and in atmospheric measurement campaigns using aircraft such as the University of North Dakota Citation II, University of Wyoming King Air, and NASA's ER-2 and WB-57F.

The group projects include developing new airborne sensors to make accurate measurements of CO2, CH4, CO, and N2O, and devising new analysis and modelling procedures to extract quantitiative information about sources, sinks, transformations, and transport of atmospheric trace gases. The long-term goal of these efforts is to understand the factors that regulate atmospheric composition and to help design programs to mitigate undesirable change.

For additional recent publications, see the Atmospheric Science publication page.
Follow these links to

Wofsy and Munger Groups Research in atmospheric science at Harvard

Prof. Wofsy's research on:
Atmosphere-biosphere exchange: role of forests in the global carbon cycle, regional and global atmospheric chemistry

Click here for complete CV.

Selected Papers

Group Directory


Senior Research Fellow

Post-doctoral and Research Associates

Graduate Students

Undergraduate Theses

  • Talya Havice (2010)
  • Research assistants

  • Elaine Gottlieb
  • Josh McLaren
  • Leland Werden
  • Administrative Assistants

  • Arlene Pippin
  • Cecilia McCormack
  • Brenda Mathieu

  • Last modified February 2010