The 2022 Vilhelm Bjerknes Medal is awarded to Hugh Coe for pioneering the science of atmospheric composition through instrument development and fine particle measurements, to study their impact on air quality, clouds and climate.
The European Geosciences Union Vilhelm Bjerknes Medal 2022 is awarded to Hugh Coe of the University of Manchester, UK, for contributing transformative analytical approaches to aerosol mass spectrometry (AMS) that enabled the determination of individual particles composition in-situ. He partnered with industry (Aerodyne Research) and others in the community to build robust and accurate AMS instruments that could be readily operated at remote sites. Hugh Coe and his team led the deployment of AMS measurements on a variety of ground-based, shipborne and airborne platforms. As a consequence, aerosol mass spectrometry has been adopted by an international cohort of scientists, leading to an unprecedented understanding of the global distribution of atmospheric fine particulate matter composition. Hugh Coe used AMS measurements of the organic component of aerosols to attribute the pollution to sources like natural plant emissions, vehicular exhaust, solid fuel combustion, and domestic energy use. Hugh Coe also helped develop the single particle soot photometer instrument that is now the standard for measuring soot aerosols, a.k.a. black carbon, a key pollutant from industrial and biomass burning that absorbs sunlight and drives global warming. His studies of the mixing of black carbon with other pollutants has provided key insights and improvements of their representation in climate models. Hugh Coe also studied natural systems and quantified how biogenic emissions of isoprene from forests were photochemically converted into secondary organic aerosols, a process observed over many forested regions in USA, Brazil, Africa, Borneo and other regions, with global implications for the global aerosol population. He investigated the release of iodine from the marine biosphere and its role in new particle formation. Altogether, Hugh Coe’s body of work on understanding the chemistry and global distribution of aerosols provide the underpinning data used to develop and test our global atmospheric models, and are foundational in our assessments of air pollution and climate change.