Joost de Gouw

Joost de Gouw photo

Senior Research Scientist

Tropospheric Chemistry

Mailing address:
NOAA ESRL Chemical Sciences Division
325 Broadway, R/CSD7
Boulder, CO 80305 USA

Phone: (303) 497-3878

Joost de Gouw is a Senior Scientist and Fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a research physicist at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, also in Boulder. His research interests include emissions, chemistry, and loss processes of organic carbon in both the gas and particle phases in the Earth's atmosphere; the atmospheric formation of secondary pollutants such as ozone and aerosol and their influence on air quality and climate; and the development and use of mass spectrometric and other methods for measurements of volatile organic compounds. In addition, he is interested in the environmental effects of future energy sources including from the production and use of renewable fuels.

Dr. de Gouw received his PhD in Physics from Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 1994. He completed his post-doctoral research at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA) and at CIRES before returning to the Netherlands as an assistant research professor at his alma mater.  He returned to the United States and CIRES in 2001. During his career he has contributed to 140 journal articles as either author or co-author and has organized and chaired several sessions at international conferences. Dr. de Gouw is currently an Editor for the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.


Ph.D., Physics, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1994


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted to the atmosphere from a wide variety of sources, both natural and man-made. In the atmosphere, VOCs have lifetimes varying from minutes to years. Sinks include chemical reactions with OH, ozone and nitrate radicals, photolysis and deposition at the Earth's surface either directly, or indirectly after uptake by aerosols or cloud droplets. The chemical transformation of VOCs in polluted air leads to the production of ozone, a harmful gas when present in the air we breathe. In addition, processed VOCs can condense onto aerosols and add to their mass loading. Aerosols are harmful to human health, since they are small enough to penetrate deep into our lungs. Also, aerosol play an important role in the Earth's radiation balance, and thus the climate, either directly by the scattering and absorption of radiation or indirectly by acting as cloud-condensation nuclei.

Our group uses state-of-the-art instruments to measure VOCs in the atmosphere. We do this mostly during large-scale field missions, which also determine many of the other atmospheric constituents. From the results we hope to understand quantitatively the emissions, chemical transformations and ultimate loss processes of VOCs, and how these processes contribute to the formation of ozone and aerosol in the atmosphere. We also study how VOC emissions may change in a future atmosphere, if alternative fuels produced from agricultural crops such as corn and switchgrass were to be used on large scale.

More information about our research is posted at

Publications are posted at

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

last modified: December 30, 2011