Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Ocean/Earth/Atmos Sciences

Committee Director

Peter F. Bernath

Committee Member

John Klinck

Committee Member

Charles I. Sukenik


Spectroscopy is a critical tool for analyzing atmospheric data. Identification of atmospheric parameters such as temperature, pressure and the existence and concentrations of constituent gases via remote sensing techniques are only possible with spectroscopic data. These form the basis of model atmospheres which may be compared to observations to determine such parameters. To this end, this dissertation explores the spectroscopy of three molecules: ammonia, propane and carbon monoxide.

Infrared spectra have been recorded for ammonia in the region 2400-9000 cm-1. These spectra were recorded at elevated temperatures (from 293-973 K) using a Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS). Comparison between the spectra recorded at different temperatures yielded experimental lower state energies. These spectra resulted in the measurement of roughly 30000 lines and about 3000 quantum assignments. In addition spectra of propane were recorded at elevated temperatures (296-700 K) using an FTS. Atmospheres with high temperatures require molecular data at appropriate conditions. This dissertation describes collection of such data and the potential application to atmospheres in our solar system, such as auroral regions in Jupiter, to those of planets orbiting around other stars and cool sub-stellar objects known as brown dwarfs. The spectra of propane and ammonia provide the highest resolution and most complete experimental study of these gases in their respective spectral regions at elevated temperatures. Detection of ammonia in an exoplanet or detection of propane in the atmosphere of Jupiter will most likely rely on the work presented here.

The best laboratory that we have to study atmospheres is our own planet. The same techniques that are applied to these alien atmospheres originated on Earth. As such it is appropriate to discuss remote sensing of our own atmosphere. This idea is explored through analysis of spectroscopic data recorded by an FTS on the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment satellite of carbon monoxide. The effect of the atmosphere’s chemistry and physics on this molecule is measured through its isotopologues, primarily 13CO (carbon-13 substituted carbon monoxide). Isotopic chemistry allows a key analysis of the atmosphere as it may be used as a tracer for chemical reactions and dynamical processes. The carbon monoxide fractionation results in Chapter IV present the first global measurements of isotopic fractionation of CO, showing significant fractionation in the upper atmosphere (60-80 km) as a result of the photolysis of carbon dioxide (CO2).