Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Irina Petropavlovskikh

Senior Research Scientist for Global Monitoring Laboratory

Headshot of Irina Petropavlovskikh
  • PhD in Physics and Engineering

Research Interests

Current Topics

  • Remote-sensing, surface and balloon-borne monitoring of ozone
  • Attribution of long-term changes in stratospheric and tropospheric ozone to dynamical and chemical drivers
  • Long-term changes in the position of subtropical and polar jets
  • Surface ozone variability in relation to pollution and wildfires
  • Validation of satellite-derived ozone profiles and total columns
  • Homogenization of ozone time series
  • UNEP/WMO Ozone Assessments
  • Ozone trends, SPARC activity LOTUS - Long-term Ozone Trends and Uncertainties in the Stratosphere
  • SPARC activity OCTAV-UTLS - Observed Composition Trends And Variability in the Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere
  • Tropospheric composition variability and long-term ozone changes, IGAC TOAR activity


CIRES lead of Ozone and Water Vapor (OZWV) group in the Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML), NOAA/ESRL. Dr. Irina Petropavlovskikh is a Senior Scientist at CIRES, University of Colorado. The primary mission of the group is to carry out original global monitoring of ozone variability in the Earth’s upper and lower atmosphere, with emphasis on the stratospheric ozone depletion/recovery, climate change, and regional air quality. The measurement methods deployed by NOAA’s ozone monitoring program are remote sensing techniques available from the ground-based instruments such as the Dobson spectrophotometer (15 stations), Brewer spectrometer (five stations), and from the NOAA satellite platforms. In addition, the balloon-borne methods are used to monitor ozone (15 stations) and water vapor (three stations) vertical distribution in the troposphere and low stratosphere. The air-quality monitoring ozone program is supported by the light aircraft boundary layer profiling and through the continuous surface and tower ozone sampling. The program also focuses on data analysis, development, and validation of the data processing methods for obtaining quality assured and calibrated data for NOAA and WMO-guided archival centers, and for open-access distribution.

For the past 25 years, Dr. Petropavlovskikh was affiliated with CIRES and worked on numerous NOAA projects. She had successfully collaborated in her research with national and international scientists. Among a few accomplishments, she lists the development and deployment of an algorithm to retrieve trend-quality ozone profiles from Dobson zenith sky measurements in the frame of the WMO Dobson network. The updated Umkehr algorithm (UMK04) was finished and published in 2005 ( She also worked on a similar algorithm for the NOAA/EPA UV Brewer network instruments under the EPA STAR grant-funded project. The PC software for Brewer data processing was developed in collaboration with the international community and implemented in the world-wide Brewer network operations ( ).  Further improvements and modifications to the algorithm were made under the 2010 NASA grant-funded project, as the wide-network distribution is pending based on the outcome of the validation result.

Dr. Petropavlovskikh's area of scientific interest include

  • attributions of long-term variability in the tropospheric and stratospheric ozone changes in association with atmospheric chemistry and long-range transport processes, with special focus on UTLS.
  • trend analyses (statistical modeling)
  • theoretical modeling of polarized UV radiation in airborne and ground-based spectral radiation measurements, including interference of clouds and aerosols
  • applications of the remote sensing and optimization of ozone retrieval algorithms 
  • satellite validations for ozone profiles and column products
  • homogenization of long-term combined ozone records

Dr. Petropavlovskikh has served on several national and international committees

  • Since 2004 she is involved in the US science team effort to validate the OMI instrument on the board of the AURA satellite. She developed and successfully applied the algorithm to retrieve ozone partial column from actinic fight measurements from the CAFS instrument flown aboard of DC-8 and WB-57 NASA aircraft in four validation missions.
  • Since 2001 Dr. Petropavlovskikh also serves on the science advisory board for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS). Currently, she is leading the NOAA NESDIS/GML collaborative group to improve satellite operational products for atmospheric ozone and water vapor monitoring.
  • Dr. Petropavlovskikh provides expertise and consulting for the international group of experts on Umkehr data organized by WMO, IO3C Umkehr sub-committee, and Ozone/UV SAG committee under the WMO.
  • She is the representative of the Dobson/Brewer working group for the Network for the Detection of the Atmospheric Composition changes (NDACC)
  • Dr. Petropavlovskikh is serving the second term as the Secretary of the International Ozone Commission.

Current Research

Dr. Petropavlovskikh is co-lead on the new SPARC Activity LOTUS – Long-term Ozone Trends and Uncertainties in the Stratosphere ( She is also co-lead on the SPARC activity OCTAV-UTLS – Observed Composition Trends And Variability in the Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere ( Dr. Petropavlovskikh lead satellite validation activities for ozone instruments, i.e. Aura MLS, JPSS OMP, ISS SAGE III. She develops radiative transfer codes and retrieval algorithms for remote sensing techniques. Dr. Petropavlovskikh is involved in the IGAC TOAR activity - trends in tropospheric ozone ( She is interested in the natural and anthropogenic changes in atmospheric composition in the Arctic, Antarctic, and at the high mountain altitudes.

Research Categories

Atmosphere, Chemistry, Climate and Weather, Science Policy, Space

Honors and Awards

2008: Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2020: CIRES outstanding performance award
Invalid date


Invalid date -


Invalid date


Invalid date

About CECA

CECA connects and creates a supportive environment for graduate students and postdocs who come from various academic units to do research in CIRES.