Our research addresses the role of trace gases and aerosols on climate, atmospheric oxidation, and air quality. We primarily develop and deploy instruments for in situ measurements from the ground, balloons, and aircraft.  We have participated in over 60 field campaigns to examine topics such as stratospheric ozone depletion over the Arctic, the impact of rockets on stratospheric chemistry, long-range transport of pollutants, and the role of aerosols in modification of cloud properties. In addition to many sites throughout the continental United States, we have conducted work in Alaska, Hawaii, Antarctica, Norway, Sweden, Spitsbergen, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Chile, South Korea, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  For more details, see Publons,
Google Scholar,, ResearchGate. We are located on the second floor of the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Laboratory (SEEL) on East Campus.

Through 2024 we will be participating in the NASA IMPACTS study, the key goal of which is to improve understanding of the microphysical (cloud formation) processes that lead to formation of snowbands. This project was postponed for one year during 2020 lockdowns for Covid-19.  Hence, following those lockdowns in March, 2020, we kept busy by assisting colleagues in the School of Engineering to study sources and transport of particles associated with activities that potentially spread Covid-19. We are also assisting efforts to improve the performance of the NCAR counterflow virtual impactor for measurements of condensed water and cloud droplet residuals, most recently assisting with the 2021 SPICULE campaign based locally at Broomfield, CO. We have proposed new measurements of cloud properties in the Arctic in 2024 and chamber studies of cloud-nucleating properties of biogenic aerosols impacted by air pollution emissions.

In 2022 we plan to test a new, lightweight (2-lb) laser-absorption spectrometer for measurements of water vapor and methane on small unattended aerial vehicles. It is hoped that these instruments will be deployed into the field for measurements important for surface fluxes in 2023.

Prof. Toohey's first experience teaching in the classroom was a physics laboratory for non-specialists while taking undergraduate courses at Cal State Fullerton. Since then he has taught two dozen different courses in fields ranging from fundamental physics and chemistry, to global ecology, sustainability, and science policy. He developed many of these courses and taught them for the first time. A full list can be found here.  Prof. Toohey has also taught on Semester at Sea. While serving as an Erskine Fellow in Fall 2018 at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, he assisted with lectures a course on climate, atmospheric, and oceanic dynamics. For several years he has been compiling notes for a new book about his early experiences in science intended for non-specialists.

Science Policy
Prof. Toohey has been involved with issues of science policy dating back to his work on ozone-depleting substances in the 1980s and 1990s. He has been a co-author of multiple assessments of stratospheric ozone and impacts of aircraft on air chemistry and climate. In 2011-2012 he served as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, working on issues related to energy and green growth for APEC. He organized a high-level meeting on Open Governance and Economic Growth, chaired by the Secretary of State, served as a delegate for the United States at the 10th APEC Energy Ministerial Meeting, and organized  an APEC Workshop in Singapore on the use of observations to address resilience and disaster response. Following that year of service, from 2013 to 2015 he helped a group of international scientists develop a sucessful proposal for hosting a hub of the Future Earth Secretariat in the United States and for linking educators and researchers in Colorado and in the United States working in the fields of sustainability and global development. In 2019 he co-authored an article calling for awareness of the role of increased emissions of rockets on stratospheric circulation.

Maybe of further interest
Photo: 2011 Jefferson Science Fellows
Read: 2014 Jefferson Science Fellowship brochure
Read:  My Year as a Jefferson Science Fellow

Watch: Understanding Climate Change and the Redistribution of Heat, Winds, Water, and Worries (U.S. Center, Doha Conference, November 2012) 
Watch: The Canary in the Coal Mine: Why the Stratosphere is Still Relevant (U.S. Dept. of State, April 2012)
Read: The Coming Surge of Rocket Emissions (EOS Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, September 24, 2019)
Watch: Elon Musk: CO2 Saint or Sinner? (Financial Times, News in Depth, June 18, 2021)

This page was last updated November 9, 2021