Portrait of Joel Thornton

Atmospheric Sciences

Joel Thornton

Professor and Chair, Atmospheric Sciences

Joel Thornton is the chair of the UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences and an atmospheric scientist who studies the impacts of human activities on air quality and climate through changes to the atmosphere’s composition and chemistry. His focus is on the processes which regulate the formation and removal of short-lived greenhouse gases such as methane and ozone, and the formation and growth of airborne particulate matter. These atmospheric components, strongly modulated by both human activities and natural processes, have important effects of human and ecosystem health, and impact climate through the greenhouse effect and changes to cloud properties. He has received a NSF CAREER Award and a NASA New Investigator Award, given to young researchers who show exceptional promise. He also received the Houghton Award from the American Meteorological Society and the ASCENT Award from the American Geophysical Union for his research contributions to the field of atmospheric science.