Susan Solomon

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Susan Solomon
Susan Solomon-Desk With Globe.jpg
Solomon in 2004
Born (1956-01-19) January 19, 1956 (age 64)
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materB.S. (1977), Illinois Institute of Technology, M.S. (1979), Ph.D. (1981) University of California, Berkeley
Known forOzone Studies
AwardsNational Medal of Science (1999)
V. M. Goldschmidt Award (2006)
William Bowie Medal (2007)
Volvo Environment Prize (2009)
2012 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award
Scientific career
FieldsAtmospheric Chemistry

Susan Solomon (born January 19, 1956 in Chicago)[1][2] is an atmospheric chemist, working for most of her career at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.[3] 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.[4] Solomon, with her colleagues, was the first to propose the chlorofluorocarbon free radical reaction mechanism that is the cause of the Antarctic ozone hole.[3]

Solomon is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the European Academy of Sciences, and the French Academy of Sciences.[5] In 2002, Discover magazine recognized her as one of the 50 most important women in science.[6] In 2008, Solomon was selected by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.[7] She also serves on the Science and Security Board for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.[8]


Susan Solomon, 2010

Early life[edit]

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. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1981, where she specialized in atmospheric chemistry.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Solomon married Barry Sidwell in 1988.[9]


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.[10]


  • 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.[11][12]
  • 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 to 100 kilometres (6.2 to 62.1 mi) altitude.[13]

The Ozone Hole[edit]

Susan Solomon at the Crafoord Prize ceremony in Stockholm 2018

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.[3] Solomon was the solo leader of the expedition, and the only woman on the team.[14] 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.[15]

Solomon later showed that volcanoes could accelerate the reactions caused by chlorofluorocarbons, and so increase the damage to the ozone layer. Her work formed the basis of the U.N. Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to protect the ozone layer by regulating damaging chemicals.[1][16] Solomon has also presented some research which suggests that implementation of the Montreal Protocols is having a positive effect.[17][18]

Using research work conducted by English explorer and navy officer Robert Falcon Scott, Solomon also wrote and spoke about Scott's 1911 expedition in The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition to counter a longstanding argument that blamed Scott for his and his crew's demise during that expedition. Scott attributed his death to unforeseen weather conditions – a claim that has been contested by British journalist and author Roland Huntford. Huntford claimed that Scott was a prideful and under-prepared leader. Solomon has defended Scott and said that "modern data side squarely with Scott", describing the weather conditions in 1911 as unusual.[19]

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change[edit]

Solomon served the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.[3] She was a contributing author for the Third Assessment Report.[20] She was also co-chair of Working Group I for the Fourth Assessment Report.[21]

External audio
audio icon “Whatever Happened to the Ozone Hole?”, Distillations Podcast Episode 230, April 17, 2018, Science History Institute



  1. ^ a b c d "Susan Solomon". Science History Institute. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  2. ^ "Solomon, Susan (1956- ) |". Retrieved 2020-02-21.
  3. ^ a b c d e "InterViews". National Academy of Sciences. July 26, 2004. Archived from the original on February 19, 2013. Retrieved February 17, 2013.
  4. ^ "People". Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences website. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  5. ^ "Susan Solomon: Pioneering Atmospheric Scientist". Top Tens: History Makers. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. January 5, 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  6. ^ Svitil, Kathy (13 November 2002). "The 50 Most Important Women in Science". Discover. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  7. ^ "The 2008 TIME 100", Time.
  8. ^ "Science and Security Board". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  9. ^ Oakes, Elizabeth H. (2007). Encyclopedia of world scientists. New York: Facts on File. p. 679. ISBN 9781438118826.
  10. ^ Krajick, Kevin (January 14, 2013). "Two Climate Scientists Win 2012 Vetlesen Prize for Work on Ozone Hole, Ice Cores". Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  11. ^ MacFarlane, Robert (October 7, 2001). "In from the cold..." The Observer. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  12. ^ Wheeler, Sara (September 2, 2001). "Great Scott?". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  13. ^ Brasseur, Guy; Solomon, Susan (2005). Aeronomy of the middle atmosphere: chemistry and physics of the stratosphere and mesosphere. Dordrecht: Springer. ISBN 1-4020-3284-6.
  14. ^ Indivero, Victoria M. (Fall 2010). "Changing views on climate". Chemical Heritage Magazine. 28 (3): 13.
  15. ^ Nickel, Mark (April 28, 2015). "Brown confers six honorary degrees". Brown University. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  16. ^ Daley, Megan (June 30, 2016). "Decades after the Montreal Protocol, there are signs the hole in the ozone layer has begun to heal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  17. ^ "Ozone layer on the mend thirty years after CFCs banned". Irish Times. July 1, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  18. ^ Solomon, S.; Ivy, D. J.; Kinnison, D.; Mills, M. J.; Neely, R. R.; Schmidt, A. (July 15, 2016). "Emergence of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer". Science. 353 (6296): 269–274. Bibcode:2016Sci...353..269S. doi:10.1126/science.aae0061. PMID 27365314.
  19. ^ Monastersky, Richard (September 7, 2001). "History's Cold Shoulder". The Chronicle of Higher Education: A20.
  20. ^ Houghton, J.T.; et al. (2001). "Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis". Third Assessment Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. p. 21. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  21. ^ Herbert, Betsy; et al. (2007). "Climate Change 2007 The Physical Science Basis" (PDF). Fourth Assessment Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "AMS Awards and Nomination Information". American Meteorological Society. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  23. ^ "The Henry G. Houghton Award". American Meteorological Society. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  24. ^ "1999 National Medals of Science and Technology". Scientific American. National Science and Technology Medals Foundation. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  25. ^ "Blue Planet Prize: The Laureates". Blue Plant Prize website. Asahi Glass Foundation. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  26. ^ "V. M. Goldschmidt Award". Geochemical Society. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  27. ^ "Honorees By Year of Induction". Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  28. ^ "Susan Solomon Honored as AGU's 2007 William Bowie Medalist". Earth System Research Laboratory. July 16, 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  29. ^ "Remise de la Grande Médaille par Jules Hoffmann, Président de l'Académie,à Susan Solomon" (PDF). November 25, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  30. ^ "Susan Solomon". Volvo Environment Prize website. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  31. ^ "Women of the Hall: Susan Solomon". National Women's Hall of Fame website. National Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  32. ^ "2010 Career Achievement Medal Recipient". Service to America Medals website. Partnership for Public Service. 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  33. ^ a b "Susan Solomon wins Vetlesen Prize – MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences". Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  34. ^ EAPS (January 14, 2013). "Susan Solomon wins international climate award". MIT. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  35. ^ Nickel, Mark (April 28, 2015). "Brown awards six honorary doctorates". Brown University. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  36. ^ "About the Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  37. ^ "Susan Solomon awarded the Royal Society's Bakerian Medal". July 18, 2017. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  38. ^ "Outstanding researchers honoured by the Royal Society". The Royal Society. July 18, 2017. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  39. ^ "Crafoord Prize 2018". Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  40. ^ Tom Shoop. "Inaugural Inductees Into Government Hall of Fame Unveiled - Government Executive". Retrieved 2019-08-16.

External links[edit]