Susan Solomon

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Susan Solomon
Susan Solomon-Desk With Globe.jpg
Solomon in 2004
Born 1956 (age 66–67)
Chicago, Illinois
Citizenship United States
Fields Atmospheric Chemistry
Institutions MIT
Alma mater B.S. (1977), Illinois Institute of Technology, M.S. (1979), Ph.D. (1981) University of California, Berkeley
Known for Ozone Studies
Notable awards National Medal of Science (1999)
V. M. Goldschmidt Award (2006)
William Bowie Medal (2007)
Volvo Environment Prize (2009)
2012 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award

Susan Solomon (born 1956 in Chicago)[1] is an atmospheric chemist, working for most of her career at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.[2] In 2011, Solomon joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she serves as the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry & Climate Science.[3] Solomon, with her colleagues, was the first to propose the chlorofluorocarbon free radical reaction mechanism that is the cause of the Antarctic ozone hole.[2]

Solomon is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the European Academy of Sciences, and the French Academy of Sciences.[4] In 2008, Solomon was selected by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.[5]


Early life

Solomon's interest in science began as a child watching The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.[1] In high school she placed third in a national science fair, with a project that measured the percent of oxygen in a gas mixture.[1]

Solomon received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1977.[6] She received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1981, where she specialized in atmospheric chemistry.[6]

Personal life

Solomon married Barry Sidwell in 1988.[1]


Susan Solomon, 2010

Solomon was the head of the Chemistry and Climate Processes Group of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Chemical Sciences Division until 2011. In 2011, she joined the faculty of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


  • The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition, Yale University Press, 2002 ISBN 0-300-09921-5 - Depicts the tale of Captain Robert Falcon Scott's failed 1912 Antarctic expedition, specifically applying the comparison of modern meteorological data with that recorded by Scott's expedition in an attempt to shed new light on the reasons for the demise of Scott's polar party.
  • Aeronomy of the Middle Atmosphere: Chemistry and Physics of the Stratosphere and Mesosphere, 3rd Edition, Springer, 2005 ISBN 1-4020-3284-6 - Describes the atmospheric chemistry and physics of the middle atmosphere from 10 km to 100 km altitude.

The ozone hole

Solomon, working with colleagues at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, postulated the mechanism that the Antarctic ozone hole was created by a heterogeneous reaction of ozone and chlorofluorocarbons free radicals on the surface of ice particles in the high altitude clouds that form over Antarctica. In 1986 and 1987 Solomon led the National Ozone Expedition to McMurdo Sound, where the team gathered the evidence to confirm the accelerated reactions.[2] Solomon was the solo leader of the expedition, and the only woman on the team.[7] Her team measured levels of chlorine oxide 100 times higher than expected in the atmosphere, which had been released by the decomposition of chlorofluorocarbons by ultraviolet radiation.[6]

Solomon also showed that volcanoes could accelerate the reactions caused by chlorofluorocarbons, and so increase the damage to the ozone layer.[6] Her work formed the basis of the U.N. Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to protect the ozone layer by regulating damaging chemicals.[1]

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Solomon served the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.[2] She was a contributing author for the Third Assessment Report.[8] She was also co-chair of Working Group I for the Fourth Assessment Report.[9]


. 2013- Vetlesen Prize, for work on the ozone hole


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Mario Molina and Susan Solomon". Environmental Chemistry. Chemical Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on 2013-02-17. Retrieved 2007-02-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "InterViews". National Academy of Sciences. 2004-07-26. Archived from the original on 2013-02-19. Retrieved 2013-02-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "People". Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences website. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2013-02-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Susan Solomon: Pioneering Atmospheric Scientist". Top Tens: History Makers. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2007-01-05. Archived from the original on 2013-02-17. Retrieved 2007-02-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The 2008 TIME 100", Time.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Meet Susan Solomon". Faces in the Environment. Chemical Heritage Foundation. 2001. Retrieved 2007-02-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Indivero, Victoria M. (Fall 2010). "Changing views on climate". Chemical Heritage Magazine. 28 (3): 13. Retrieved 12 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Houghton, J.T.; et al. (2001). "Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis" (pdf). Third Assessment Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. p. 21. Retrieved 2013-02-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Solomon, Susan; et al. (2007). "Climate Change 2007 The Physical Science Basis" (pdf). Fourth Assessment Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. p. 3. Retrieved 2013-02-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "2010 Career Achievement Medal Recipient". Service to America Medals website. Partnership for Public Service. 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Laureate 2009". Volvo Environment Prize website. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden. Retrieved 2013-03-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Women of the Hall: Susan Solomon". National Women's Hall of Fame website. National Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013-03-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Remise de la Grande Médaille par Jules Hoffmann, Président de l'Académie,à Susan Solomon" (pdf). 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2013-03-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Honorees By Year of Induction". Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013-03-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Blue Planet Prize: The Laureates". Blue Plant Prize website. Asahi Glass Foundation. Retrieved 2013-03-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 "AMS Awards and Nomination Information". American Meteorological Society. Retrieved 2013-03-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "The Laureates - 1999". National Science & Technology Medals website. National Science and Technology Medals Foundation. Retrieved 2013-03-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. The Henry G. Houghton Award

External Links

Oral History Interview with Susan Solomon. (1997-09-05). American Meteorological Society Oral History Project. UCAR Archives.