The Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the Institute of Atmospheric Physics offer a unique and varied program of graduate training and research in the atmospheric sciences. In the areas of satellite remote sensing, air-sea interactions, the physics of lightning flashes, weather prediction and climate, climate change, atmospheric chemistry and air pollution, our students and scientists are working to better understand our atmosphere and how it may be changing in response to human activities. Collaborative projects are underway with the National Weather Service forecast center on campus, Hydrology and Water Resources, the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, Planetary Sciences/LPL, Applied Mathematics, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, the Medical School and others. Research is supported through grants from federal agencies such as NSF, NASA, NOAA, and DOD.
The Department of Geosciences is a top-ranked student-centered research department. The Department of Geosciences is ranked 7th in the nation by US News and World Report and ranks 4th in the subfields of tectonics and sedimentology/stratigraphy. Our students and faculty are engaged in active research on understanding Earth processes such as how mountains form, why earthquakes occur, how continents evolve, how landscapes develop, how mineral resources form, and what controls climate and global warming. The faculty and staff are committed to providing undergraduate and graduate students with an atmosphere that facilitates their learning and career preparation, and an environment that encourages the production of significant new knowledge about the Earth Sciences—knowledge that can be applied to the solution of society's problems and contribute to our fundamental understanding of how the Earth works.
The Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, established in 1966, was the first department in the nation dedicated solely to the science of water and is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as the top program in the nation in this field. For over 40 years, HWR has trained and educated hydrologists and water resources professionals who now work around the globe, and it remains an international leader in both undergraduate and graduate education and research. Faculty and students are engaged in cutting-edge research in a wide range of topics, including contaminant fate and transport, ground-water hydrology and hydrogeology, vadose zone and geophysical methods, mathematical-statistical and numerical modeling, surface hydrology, precipitation-runoff and calibration modeling, flood forecasting, watershed scale elemental cycling, macroscale hydrology and water resources systems, remote sensing applications in hydrology, water quality and water chemistry, isotope geochemistry, geochemical modeling, paleohydrology and paleoflood hydrology, terrestrial-aquatic interaction, biogeochemistry and global change, hydroclimatology and hydrometeorology, and environmental risk and economic analysis. Our students do more than learn science–they help create it.
The Department provides students with a variety of programs in environmental science, soil science, water quality and soil-plant-nutrient-water relationships. The department's scope is to provide (1) training in the area of water quality to the coming generation of scientists and decision-makers; (2) relevant and innovative information to aid in management and decision-making of our increasingly stressed water supplies; and (3) technical expertise for addressing water quality issues in both rural (agriculture) and urban centers. Water quality will continue to be a primary focal area for training, research, and service/extension/outreach activities of the department.
The current research interests of the department's faculty can be broadly organized into three areas:
- soil, plant, atmosphere systems, with emphasis on remote sensing, soil-water-plant relations, and soil genesis and morphology
- environmental science, with emphasis on contaminant transport and fate, waste management/reuse, and soil/groundwater remediation
- subsurface science, with emphasis on physical, chemical, and microbiological processes
The majority of SWES faculty work on interdisciplinary projects that are focused on or related to water quality. Thus, SWES plays a major role in water quality research and water management in the state of Arizona.
The National Science Foundation - University of Arizona Accelerator Mass Spectrometry facility is dedicated to the study of cosmogenic isotopes, with special emphasis on radiocarbon. The laboratory acts both as an analytical resource to the general community and as a research and training center.
The dual mission of the facility is: to conduct independent research designed to improve the understanding of cosmogenic isotopes, and to provide support for the research needs of the greater scientific community.
The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research is more than a place to study dendrochronology. We literally wrote the book on it! The dating and study of annual growth rings in trees was formalized as a scientific discipline here when the lab was established in 1937. Dendrochronology is very much an interdisciplinary science, with specific application in many different research areas. These include fire history and fire ecology, paleoclimatology, archaeology, biogeography, isotope geochemistry, paleoecology, biogeochemistry, geomorphology, numerical and statistical modeling, and even public health.
Other Environmental Programs on Campus