Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Chelsea Thompson

Research Interests

  • Air quality
  • Tropospheric chemistry of reactive trace gases in polluted and remote atmospheres
  • Photochemistry on snow and ice
  • Air-surface interactions (ocean, snow/ice, particles) and heterogeneous processes 

 

Chelsea Thompson is an atmospheric chemist, science communicator, and graphic designer with the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) working at NOAA’s Chemical Sciences Laboratory (CSL) in Boulder, Colorado.

Chelsea received a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Forensic Science with a Chemistry minor from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. She then attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and earned her PhD in Analytical Chemistry under the mentorship of Prof. Paul Shepson. Her PhD research focused on chlorine and bromine radical chemistry in the High Arctic that leads to depletion of ozone and gaseous elemental mercury during polar spring. She spent two spring field seasons in Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska as a researcher as part of the OASIS (Ocean-Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Snowpack) project and one summer season as the Science/Laboratory Manager at the NSF-funded field station. While in Utqiagvik, Chelsea was able to engage with the indigenous community and was privileged to help prepare native foods and participate in the Nalukataq annual whaling festival.

Upon completion of her doctorate work in 2012, Chelsea moved to Boulder, Colorado to begin a postdoctoral position at the University of Colorado’s Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research and was awarded an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. There she began studying oil and gas emissions and their impacts on air quality and on unusually high wintertime ozone in the Uintah Basin, Utah. In 2015, she joined the Tropospheric Chemistry group at NOAA CSL, where she participated in the SONGNEX airborne project, measuring nitrogen oxides (NOy) and ozone over western U.S. oil and gas shale basins. From 2016-2019, she participated in the NASA Atmospheric Tomography (ATom) mission, flying four round-trip global circuits aboard the NASA DC-8 research aircraft measuring NOy and ozone in the remote atmosphere.

After a year in the private sector, Chelsea returned to CSL and has moved into the role of Communications Lead and graphic designer for the laboratory. Chelsea has a passion for science communication and believes strongly in the power of visual communication to engage the public. As the Communications Lead, Chelsea is able to blend her scientific and artistic backgrounds to create graphics, illustrations, and other products for publications, laboratory communications, public engagement, and international scientific assessments.

 

Chelsea's Graphic Design Portfolio can be accessed and downloaded from her NOAA Staff webpage.

 

Field Campaigns

2009:  OASIS  (Ocean-Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Snowpack)    http://oasishome.net/

2013:  UBWOS  (Uinta Basin Winter Ozone Study)    https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/groups/csd7/measurements/2013ubwos/

2015:  SONGNEX  (Shale Oil and Natural Gas Nexus)    https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/projects/songnex/

2016 – 2018:  NASA ATom  (Atmospheric Tomography)    https://espo.nasa.gov/atom , https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/projects/atom/

 

 

Chelsea in Anchorage during NASA ATom

DC-8 in American Samoa during NASA ATom

The SONGNEX team with the NOAA P-3

Honors and Awards

  • CIRES Outstanding Performance Award for Service, 2021