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Tom Ryerson

Dr. Ryerson is an internationally recognized expert in the chemistry of the atmosphere. His research focuses on air quality and climate impacts of natural, urban, and industrial emissions to the atmosphere. Dr. Ryerson has 25 years of experience at NOAA as an experimental scientist specializing in designing, building and operating chemical instrumentation onboard research aircraft.  He has led large, multi-year, multi-agency atmospheric sampling missions spanning the globe using the NASA DC-8 and NOAA P-3 aircraft.  He joined Emissions Technologies in 2020 to develop and deploy a novel continuous methane monitor for off-grid operation at remote oil and gas production and distribution facilities.

Dr. Ryerson has coordinated interagency and international government–academic–private sector collaborations that have resulted in fundamental improvements to air quality management practices on both the National and State levels. For example, the airborne observations from his research in 2006 were analyzed to identify the causes of extremely high pollution episodes in the Houston, Texas, area, leading to improved emissions control strategies estimated to have saved 64,000 jobs and $10 billion over ten years.

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In 2010, Dr. Ryerson directed instrumented research flights of the NOAA P-3 aircraft above the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He pioneered novel analyses of the Deepwater Horizon measurements to demonstrate a fundamentally new approach to rapid and accurate quantification of subsurface oil flow rates into the marine environment.

Dr. Ryerson served as Science Team Lead and NASA DC-8 Mission Scientist for the NASA Atmospheric Tomography Mission (2013-2018). In circling the globe from pole to pole over the remote oceans, the DC-8 obtained unprecedented measurements that have transformed our understanding of the global-scale air quality and climate impacts of human emissions on the remote atmosphere.

Dr. Ryerson also served as the Program Leader of the Tropospheric Chemistry Program in the NOAA/ESRL Chemical Sciences Division from 2015-2020. He guided a group of 20 scientists and technical support staff in conducting laboratory and field studies in ground-based and airborne deployments.  


Dr. Ryerson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Studies from the College of William and Mary in 1987, and a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1994.

200+ Research Papers 

Dr. Ryerson is an author on more than 200 research papers published in peer-reviewed journals. The papers describe new instrumentation and measurements from many airborne missions and the scientific interpretation of those measurements to address air quality and climate change issues.  


Dr. Ryerson’s awards include 2 Department of Commerce Silver Medals for Scientific Achievement, 1 NOAA Bronze Medal for Scientific Achievement, 4 NOAA Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards, a NOAA Award for Exceptional Efforts in the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, and 2 Colorado Governor’s Awards for High-Impact Research.  

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