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It seems like every day atmospheric scientists unload a new set of scary predictions about gases swirling about the planet. There are brown clouds, volatile organic compounds, methane, ozone, sulfur and, of course, big daddy carbon dioxide. All of them seem very big and all of them are getting worse.
Many of these news stories, however, are based on computer modeling, which, nifty as it may be, can only display a small slice of our best guess of what atmospheric chemistry has in store for us. These models are based on experiments taken by scientists in a dazzling array of different laboratory techniques.
Certainly our civilization faces a number of challenges as we move into the 21st century. And certainly modeling will play an important role in how we plan for that future. That said, here is a list of researchers taking atmospheric science away from the computer and back into the lab and field. They build the bedrock of our knowledge about the air we breathe and the sky above it.