Earth & Atmospheric Science

Earth & Atmospheric Science

Studying Earth's atmosphere and climate from space

LASP is renowned for being the world’s only academic research institute to explore every planet in our solar system, but the planet we study most closely is Earth. About one-third of our nearly $1 billion research portfolio relates to studying Earth’s atmosphere and climate from space.

Our scientists study the composition, structure, chemistry, and radiative budget of the layered sphere of gases that comprise our atmosphere, including its many layers: the troposphere, where weather occurs; the stratosphere, where a blanket of protective ozone lies; the mesosphere, home of beautiful noctilucent clouds (also known as polar mesospheric clouds); and the thermosphere, where the gorgeous colors of Earth’s auroras shimmer.

Using measurements from space-based instruments, rocket experiments, aircraft field campaigns, and high-altitude balloons, in conjunction with state-of-the-art general circulation and other models, LASP researchers investigate many societally relevant phenomena. Specific areas of interest include:

  • Earth’s radiation budget
  • Clouds and aerosols
  • Stratospheric ozone
  • Chemistry of the troposphere
  • Noctilucent clouds
  • Atmospheric couplings and dynamics
  • Impacts of energetic particle precipitation
  • Thermosphere-ionosphere processes
Wispy noctilucent clouds glow high above the silhouetted landscape