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

Dr Eloise Marais

Associate Professor in Physical Geography
Department of Geography
University College London
North-West Wing
Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT

E-mail: e.marais [at]
Research Group Website:

Curriculum Vitae [Last updated February 2021]

I obtained my PhD from Harvard University with funding from 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 atmospheric chemistry transport model GEOS-Chem. The group focuses too on constructing inventories of prolific air pollution sources, deriving new datasets of air pollution abundances from a range of data platforms (satellites, aircraft, ground-based networks), and obtaining information on the sources and characteristics of local and regional air quality vital for prudent environmental policies.

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 are given below. For a complete and current list of research group publications, visit

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, 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 Air Pollution
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: Chloe Balhatchet (summer student)
Collaborators: University of Leicester Space Research Centre
Funding: ERC Starting Grant UpTrop

Environmental Impact of the Charcoal Industry in Africa
Compile an inventory of emissions from the burgeoning charcoal industry in Africa and embed in GEOS-Chem to determine the impact on air quality and climate.
People: Alfred Bockarie
Collaborators: Birmingham Institute of Forest Research
Funding: Islamic Development Bank PhD studentship awarded to Alfred.

City and Seaport Air Pollution Detected with Instruments in Space
Address air quality data and knowledge gaps in rapidly developing tropical megacities and African seaports using satellite observations of atmospheric composition.
People: Karn Vohra, Gongda Lu
Collaborators: Satellite Applications and Connected Places Catapults, SUSTech
Funding: NERC/EPSRC, studentship awarded to Karn

Efficacy of Emission Controls in China
Assess the efficacy of recent strict wintertime emission controls in North China using national, local, and international measurements and GEOS-Chem.
People: Gongda Lu
Collaborators: NERC APHH measurement team, Harvard, NCAS, IAP, CAS
Funding: Chinese Scholarship Council studentship awarded to Gongda

National and Regional Air Pollution
Characterise and quality with data from multiple platforms (surface, satellite, model) national and regional pollution sources in the UK and India.
People: Alok Pandey, Kavitha Mottungan
Collaborators: Leicester City Council, NCEO
Funding: Defra, Newton International Fellowship awarded to Kavitha

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

Media Coverage


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 noteworthy 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
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
Email e.marais [at] to request any of the following datasets developed by the group:

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 Earth: An Integrated System
GEOG0012 Thinking Geographically II

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

PhD Students:

Karn Vohra, Elucidating long-term changes in air quality in cities using satellites
Gongda Lu, Rapidly changing emissions in North China and African seaports
Nana Wei, Characterising reactive nitrogen in the global upper troposphere with NASA aircraft observations



Jamie Kelly, Local and non-local contributors to fine particulate air pollution in UK cities
Kavitha Mottungan, Spatio-temporal variability in air pollution sources in India
Robert Ryan, Using new datasets to address uncertainties in NOx in the upper troposphere