Air Pollution and Climate Change

(Course Code: ENV511 – ‘AIR’)

Semester: Spring Teaching Period: 3 weeks ECTS Credits: 2 Type:


Coordinator: Christodoulos PILINIS
Instructors: Christodoulos PILINIS


[Note: Basic knowledge in Physics and Chemistry is required for successfully attending the course]

The course aims to provide knowledge and understanding of the physical and chemical processes that drive atmospheric pollution, greenhouse gases concentration increases, and climate change. Due of the interdisciplinary background of students, these processes will be examined at an introductory level. The scope of the course will cover all ground from local to planetary problems. During the first week, we will focus more on local and regional air quality. The second week is devoted to climate change, its physicochemical mechanisms, timescales and impact based on various scenarios. During the third week, the students will work in groups on small projects. The instructors will organize workshops for the groups. The projects will produce a written report and an oral presentation on the final day.

After successfully completing this course, the students will have an:

  • Understanding of the basic air pollutants, their sources and interaction in the atmosphere
  • Understanding of the sources of atmospheric particles, their influence on health and climate
  • Basic understanding of the complexity of the climate system
  • Understanding of why climate has changed in the past and how these changes are related to current ones

The following subjects will be covered in the lectures:

  • Properties and History of the Atmosphere
  • Air Pollutants and Greenhouse Gases-Sources and chemical reactions
  • Atmospheric particles -Size distributions, chemical and optical properties of atmospheric aerosols
  • Meteorology and Air pollution interactions Inversion, winds, fronts, stability
  • Atmospheric dispersion in the atmosphere – Gauss equations – Exercises on atmospheric dispersion
  • Depletion of Stratospheric ozone
  • In situ and remote sensing climate observations. Reconstructions of paleoclimate and Milankovitch theory.
  • Planetary radiation energy balance.  Greenhouse effect and warming potentials.
  • Heat fluxes. General circulation of the atmosphere and the ocean conveyor belt. Feedbacks
  • Carbon cycle and planetary budget. Temporal scales of processes.
  • Aerosols and climate.  Direct and indirect effects on radiation.
  • Global climate model projections. Emission scenarios and climate change impacts

Students will be individually graded based on:

Exam at the end of week 2 (50%)
Written project report (35%)
Presentation’s evaluation at the end of week 3 (15%)

Activities Estimated Workload

Self-study & Independent Work

Group assignment




TOTAL 50 hours
Notes provided:
Basic Textbook:
  •  Dessler A. E., (2012), Introduction to modern climate change, Cambridge University Press
  • Seinfeld, J. H. and Pandis, S. N. (1998) Atmospheric chemistry and physics ‐ from air pollution to climate change, Wiley, New York [available at the University Library]
Language: English
Internet Links: