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Atmospheric measurement tower
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Dr. Eva Pfannerstill

Atmospheric Chemist

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I am a Research Fellow at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, starting my own Helmholtz Young Investigator Group in 2024. I use tools from mass spectrometry to machine learning to understand the composition and reactions of the air we breathe. Making sense of atmospheric gas-phase chemistry can help fight air pollution and mitigate climate change.

Research Interests

Research Interests


I am especially interested in the organic gas-phase constituents of the air that, despite concentrations in only parts per billion and below, are powerful fuels of atmospheric chemistry - causing the formation of ozone and particles, which in turn pose health risks and impact the climate. These so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted by countless human-made sources such as fossil fuel combustion, solvent evaporation, household chemicals and personal care products - but also by biological processes including plant-defense and -communication.

99% of the world's population breathes concentrations of air pollutants deemed unhealthy by the WHO. However, understanding and regulating air pollution has become more difficult because the source mixture has been changing since the introduction of vehicle exhaust catalysts. Additionally, added uncertainty comes with the influence of climate change - higher temperatures may cause larger evaporative emissions, and stressed vegetation may emit more or different reactive VOCs. 

In my research, I ask questions such as:

How complete is our understanding of atmospheric composition in pristine and polluted atmospheres?

How does climate stress such as drought change VOC emissions from forests or soils, and how does this feedack onto air pollutant formation?

How do airborne measurements of VOC emissions compare with inventories and models?

How do urban and agricultural emissions relate with temperature?

Selected Publications

Pfannerstill, E. Y., Arata, C., Zhu, Q., Place, B., Schulze, B., Ward, R., Woods, R., Harkins, C., Schwantes, R. H., Seinfeld, J. H., Bucholtz, A., Cohen, R. C., and Goldstein, A. H.: Temperature-dependent emissions dominate aerosol and ozone formation in Los Angeles, Science, 384, 1324–1329,, 2024.

Pfannerstill, E. Y., Arata, C., Zhu, Q., Schulze, B. C., Woods, R., Harkins, C., Schwantes, R. H., McDonald, B. C., Seinfeld, J. H., Bucholtz, A., Cohen, R. C., and Goldstein, A. H.: Comparison between Spatially Resolved Airborne Flux Measurements and Emission Inventories of Volatile Organic Compounds in Los Angeles, Environmental Science & Technology, XXX, , 2023.

Pfannerstill, E. Y., Arata, C., Zhu, Q., Schulze, B. C., Woods, R., Seinfeld, J. H., Bucholtz, A., Cohen, R. C., and Goldstein, A. H.: Volatile organic compound fluxes in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley – spatial distribution, source attribution, and inventory comparison, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 23, 12753–12780, , 2023.

Pfannerstill, E. Y., Reijrink, N. G., Edtbauer, A., Ringsdorf, A., Zannoni, N., Araújo, A., Ditas, F., Holanda, B. A., Sá, M. O., Tsokankunku, A., Walter, D., Wolff, S., Lavrič, J. V., Pöhlker, C., Sörgel, M., and Williams, J.: Total OH reactivity over the Amazon rainforest: variability with temperature, wind, rain, altitude, time of day, season, and an overall budget closure, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 21, 6231–6256, , 2021.

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