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

Zachary Decker

Research Interests

I'm interested in research at the interface of Atmopsheric Chemistry and Physics.

As a member of the Tropospheric Chemistry group at NOAA, I utilize and develop multi-channel cavity ringdown instruments to measure NOx, NO3, N2O5, NOy, and O3 simultaneously on a one-second time scale. These instruments can and have been implemented on various platforms such as the NOAA P-3 aircraft, Twin-Otter aircraft, and the NOAA CSL Mobile-lab (ground vehicle).

Visit my personal website for up to date information about my research:


Current Research

I am currently investigating the dark chemistry of wildfire smoke plumes. That is the chemistry that occurs without sunlight whether it be after sunset, or in the center of a thick and dark smoke plume. Specifically the reactions, and evolution, of the nitrate radical (NO3) and biomass burning volatile organic compounds in smoke plumes as they are aged and transported. I am studying this system through the data we gathered during the FIREX-AQ campaign in 2019. During FIREX-AQ I worked with the Joel Throrton group from the University of Washing to operate an Iodide Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer aboard the NOAA Twin Otter aircraft. 
Currently, I am investigating the dark chemical evolution of smoke plumes. I am using a suite of methods to support this research such as box modeling using the master chemical mechanism and positive matrix factorization.