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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Academic Staff  /  Eloise Marais

Dr Eloise Marais

Channel 4 interview

Associate Professor in Physical Geography
Department of Geography
University College London

Room 109, North West Wing
Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT

E-mail: e.marais [at]
Office Tel: +44(0)2031082481
In-person ASF hours: Tuesdays 4-5pm (except during Reading Week)

Research Group Website
Google Scholar

Curriculum Vitae [Last updated September 2022]

I obtained my PhD from Harvard University in 2014 funded by the International Fulbright Science and Technology Programme. I have since gained research experience as a postdoc at Harvard, an independent researcher at University of Birmingham, and an Associate Professor at University of Leicester.

At UCL, I lead a research group that uses and contributes to the development of the widely used atmospheric chemistry transport model GEOS-Chem. The group also develops new inventories of emerging and prolific global and regional air pollution sources, derives new data products of air pollution abundances from a range of data platforms (satellites, aircraft, ground-based networks), obtains vital information on the sources and characteristics of local and regional air quality for developing prudent environmental policies, and recently acquired a MAX-DOAS instrument for long-term monitoring of the chemical composition of the atmosphere over Central London.

In August 2019, I was awarded an ERC Starting Grant to address persistent uncertainties in the global upper troposphere. This portion of the atmosphere, although remote (8-12 km aloft), has a large influence on global air quality and climate.

PhD in Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University (2008-2014)
MSc in Chemistry, Rhodes University, South Africa (2006-2007)
BSc Honours in Chemistry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (2001-2004)

Past Employment
Associate Professor in Earth Observations, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester (2018-2020)
Environmental Health Sciences Fellowship, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK (2016-2018)
Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2014-2016)

Details of a selection of publications from my research group are provided below. For a complete and current list, visit

R. G. Ryan et al., Impact of rocket launch and space debris air pollutant emissions on stratospheric ozone and global climate, Earth's Future, doi:10.1029/2021EF002612, 2022, Extensive media coverage.

K. Vohra et al., Global mortality from outdoor fine particle pollution generated by fossil fuel combustion: Results from GEOS-Chem, ER, doi:10.1016/j.envres.2021.110754, 2021, ISI Hot & Highly Cited Paper, Extensive media coverage.

E. A. Marais et al., Air quality and health impact of future fossil fuel use for electricity generation and transport in Africa, ES&T, doi:10.1021/acs.est.9b04958, 2019.

L. Zhu et al., Long-term (2005–2014) trends in formaldehyde (HCHO) columns across North America as seen by the OMI satellite instrument: Evidence of changing emissions of volatile organic compounds, GRL, doi:10.1002/2017GL073859, 2017.

E. A. Marais et al., Aqueous-phase mechanism for secondary organic aerosol formation from isoprene: application to the Southeast United States and co-benefit of SO2 emission controls, ACP, doi:10.5194/acp-16-1603-2016, 2016, ISI Highly Cited Paper.

Q. Wang et al., Global budget and radiative forcing of black carbon aerosol: constraints from pole-to-pole (HIPPO) observations across the Pacific, JGR, doi:10.1002/2013JD020824, 2014, ISI Highly Cited Paper.

E. A. Marais et al., Isoprene emissions in Africa inferred from OMI observations of formaldehyde columns, ACP, doi:10.5194/acp-12-6219-2012, 2012.

Current research projects are summarized below. For further details, visit

Reactive Nitrogen in the Global Upper Troposphere
Develop new datasets of reactive nitrogen in the upper troposphere (8-12 km aloft) to address persistent uncertainties in our understanding of atmospheric composition in this highly influential part of the atmosphere.
People: Nana Wei, Robert Ryan
Collaborators: NASA, KNMI, Luftblick, INTA, CNRS
Funding: ERC Starting Grant UpTrop

Rockets and the Environmental Impact
Assemble an inventory of emissions from space sector rocket launches and re-entries in 2019 to implement in GEOS-Chem to quantify the effect on atmospheric composition.
People: Robert Ryan, Chloe Balhatchet (summer student)
Collaborators: MIT
Funding: ERC Starting Grant UpTrop

National and Regional Air Pollution
Characterise national and regional air quality sources and air pollution in regions throughout the world (India, Africa, China, the UK, tropical cities) using data from multiple platforms (surface, satellite, model).
People: Gongda Lu, Karn Vohra, Kavitha Mottungan, Jamie Kelly
Collaborators: Leicester City Council, NCEO
Funding: Defra, Newton International Fellowship awarded to Kavitha, Chinese Scholarship Council scholarship awarded to Gongda

Fossil Fuels and Health
Determine with GEOS-Chem the number of global premature deaths due to exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) from fossil fuel use.
People: Karn Vohra
Collaborators: Harvard

International Leadership:
International GEOS-Chem Model Steering Committee member
Health Effects Institute Global Health Oversight Committee member
UK Air Quality Experts Group (AQEG) ad-hoc member

Media Coverage:


My expertise in the detrimental impacts of air pollution on health and the potential environmental harm of space spector air pollutant emissions are routinely sought by journalists from many media agencies.

The environmental impact of space travel:
Channel 4 News, SpaceX launch makes history as four amateur astronauts orbit Earth
The Guardian, How the billionaire space race could be one giant leap for pollution
As Space Tourism Dawns, Analysts Ask Who Pays the Real Cost
Space travel is open for business, but what about the environmental impact?
Space tourism sounds fun. But it could be terrible for the planet

Extensive media coverage for our paper on global premature mortality due to exposure to air pollution from fossil fuel combustion:
The Guardian, 'Invisible killer': fossil fuels caused 8.7m deaths globally in 2018, research finds
Tweet by environmental activist Greta Thurnberg:
Tweet by notable historian and author Naomi Oreskes:
The Independent, Air pollution from fossil fuels ‘responsible for one in five deaths worldwide’
Reuters, Fossil fuel pollution causes one in five premature deaths globally: study
Bloomberg, Fossil fuel pollution kills 8.7 million a year, twice previous estimate
New Scientist, Deaths from fossil fuel air pollution are double what we thought
Harvard Gazette, 1 in 5 deaths caused by fossil fuel emissions
Huffington Post, Fossil fuel air pollution linked to 1 In 5 deaths worldwide, new Harvard study finds
The Times, Pollution from fossil fuels twice as deadly as thought, scientists warn


New report examines household air pollution and health risk in Ghana, HEI Newsletter
Open to the world: 51 nationalities among the winners of the 2019 ERC Starting Grants, ERC News
Africa increases its reliance on fossil fuels, The Guardian’s Pollutionwatch
Green growth: Africa chooses between renewables and fossil fuels
Switching to renewable energy could save thousands of lives in Africa, Harvard SEAS Newsletter
ERC Magazine Interview Series: Out of Africa: global collaboration benefits all

Environmental Datasets
Links to datasets generated by the group can be found on the Datasets page of the research group website.

These include, but are not limited to:
Global premature mortality due to exposure to air pollution from fossil fuel combustion
Satellite-derived biogenic emissions of isoprene from vegetation in Africa
Inventory of pollutant emissions from inefficient combustion sources in Africa
Future (2030) and current (2012) emissions from vehicles and power plants in Africa
Air pollutant emissions from the charcoal industry in Africa

GEOG0005 Understanding Our Planet
GEOG0151 Thinking Geographically I
GEOG0012 Thinking Geographically II
GEOG0042 Independent Study
GEOG0170 Environmental Consequences of Human Activity (convener)
GEOG0105 Master's Research Project and Dissertation

If you would like to explore opportunities to join our research group, please contact me at e.marais [at]

Current PhD Students:

Nana Wei, Characterising reactive nitrogen in the global upper troposphere with NASA aircraft observations
Rebekah Horner, New observations of nitrogen oxides in the global atmosphere from satellite observations
Eleanor Smith, Impact of the remote atmosphere on local air pollution, climate, and harmful UV radiation

Current Postdocs:

Connor Barker, Dry deposition of oxygenated VOCs and the impact of megaconstellations the atmosphere.
Karn Vohra, Health effects of exposure to air pollution from the oil and gas lifecycle in the US.
Gongda Lu, Software development for deriving new datasets from satellite observations


Alfred Bockarie, PhD student, now a lecturer at Njala University, Sierra Leone
Alok Pandey, postdoc, now a research fellow at University of Leeds, UK
Jamie Kelly, postdoc, now at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA)
Kavitha Mottungan, now a research scientist at the UK National Physical Laboratory
Karn Vohra, PhD student, now a postdoc in my group
Gongda Lu, PhD student, now a software engineer in my group
Robert Ryan, postdoc, now a postdoc at University of Melbourne, Australia