Research Expertise and Interest

climate, geography, terrestrial-atmosphere exchange of trace gases, atmospheric chemistry and composition, coastal salt marsh, chaparral, desert, tundra, boreal forest, grassland, hydrocarbon, biogenic volatile organic compounds, soils, halocarbon, methyl bromide, methyl chloride, methyl iodide, chloroform, methane, carbon monoxide, molecular hydrogen, Brassica, relaxed eddy accumulation techniques, air pollution, snow, Sierra Nevada, copper, agriculture, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, stable isotopes, earth system science, biogeochemistry, stratospheric ozone

Research Description

Humans have modified the chemical composition of the earth’s atmosphere through emissions of radiatively and environmentally active compounds. Consequently, our society faces a triumvirate of interrelated global atmospheric chemistry issues: stratospheric ozone depletion, the enhanced greenhouse effect, and the changing capacity of the atmosphere to oxidize pollutants. The primary players in these atmospheric chemistry problems are the trace gases, which account for only a fraction of a percent of the total atmospheric composition. My field of research is trace gas biogeochemistry, which involves elucidating the interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere, soils, and hydrosphere.

Robert Rhew's work involves laboratory and field-based measurements in different terrestrial ecosystems, such as coastal salt marsh, chaparral, desert, tundra, boreal forest, grassland, and temperate forest. His research seeks to identify natural terrestrial sources and sinks of important trace gases, to quantify their fluxes, and to determine the environmental and biological controls on those fluxes. Recent innovations in measurement technology and analytical design have allowed for the precise and accurate analysis of gases at the parts-per-trillion concentration levels, opening up a wealth of research opportunity to study their biogeochemical cycles.

In the News

With Climate Change, Berkeley Snow Lab’s Mission Remains Critical

The lab has an unparalleled record, going back more than 75 years, of daily or even hourly temperature, snowfall and snowpack measurements. While there are several hundred automated snow and precipitation stations throughout the Sierra Nevada, only CSSL has a snow scientist on site to cross-check measurements — there are four different instruments in Schwartz’s backyard that measure precipitation — and provide a measure of the water content in the snow every two to three days.
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