About Dr. Paul J. Crutzen, Nobel Prize Winner
Dr. Paul J. Crutzen, born 1933, is an atmospheric chemist who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (with Mario J. Molina and Frank Sherwood) in 1995, for his pioneering research into ozone layer depletion caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). From 1977 to 1980, Dr. Crutzen was the director of research at the National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado and from 1980 to 2000, director of Atmospheric Chemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. He has undertaken research at numerous other institutions, such as the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Crutzen is a long-standing member of various scientific academies, including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Crutzen's childhood began just a few years before the start of WWII. In September 1940, the same year Germany invaded The Netherlands, Crutzen entered his first year of elementary school. After many delays and school switches all caused by happenings in the war, Crutzen graduated from elementary school and moved onto “Hogere Burgerschool” (Higher Citizens School) in 1946 in which time he became fluent in French, English, and German. Along with languages his main focus were natural sciences in this school from which he graduated from in 1951. After this he entered a Middle Technical School where he studied Civil Engineering. However his schooling would be cut short as he had to serve 21 months of compulsory military service in the Netherlands.
1956 Crutzen met Terttu Soininen whom he would marry a few years later in February, 1958. December of that same year the couple had a daughter by the name of Liona. In March 1964 the couple had another daughter by the name of Sylvia.
Crutzen is best known for his research on ozone depletion. In 1970 Prof. Paul Crutzen pointed out that emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a stable, long-lived gas produced by soil bacteria, from the Earth's surface could affect the amount of nitric oxide (NO) in the stratosphere. Crutzen showed that nitrous oxide lives long enough to reach the stratosphere, where it is converted into NO. Crutzen then noted that increasing use of fertilizers might have led to an increase in nitrous oxide emissions over the natural background, which would in turn result in an increase in the amount of NO in the stratosphere. Thus human activity could have an impact on the stratospheric ozone layer. In the following year, Crutzen and (independently) Harold Johnston suggested that NO emissions from the fleet of, then proposed, supersonic transport(SST) airliners(a few hundred Boeing 2707s), which would fly in the lower stratosphere, could also deplete the ozone layer; however more recent analysis has disputed this as a large concern.
He lists his main research interests as “Stratospheric and tropospheric chemistry, and their role in the biogeochemical cycles and climate”. He currently works at the Department of Atmospheric Chemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, in Mainz, Germany; the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego; and at Seoul National University, South Korea. He was also a long-time adjunct professor atGeorgia Institute of Technology and research professor at the department of Meteorology at Stockholm University, Sweden.
He has co-signed a letter from over 70 Nobel laureate scientists to the Louisiana Legislature supporting the repeal of Louisiana’s creationism law, the Louisiana Science Education Act. In 2003 he was one of 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.