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Paul J. Crutzen

Paul J. CrutzenAKA Paul Jozef Crutzen

Born: 3-Dec-1933
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist, Chemist

Nationality: Netherlands
Executive summary: Ozone depletion

Military service: Dutch Army (1956-58, compulsory)

Dutch scientist Paul J. Crutzen followed an unusual academic trajectory. His grade school education was interrupted by the Nazi occupation of his native Netherlands, and his high school test scores were too low to earn a university scholarship, so he instead attended technical college, where he majored in civil engineering. He worked in that field for several years before being hired in 1959 as a computer programmer at the University of Stockholm, despite having no training or experience with computers. He caught on quickly to the mathematical intricacies of early programming, and launched a second career constructing early modeling software for the university's meteorological institute. In performing this work, he was drawn to the science of meteorology, and began attending related classes at the University, earning his doctorate in 1968 and beginning his third and most successful career, as a meteorologist.

He was the first scientist to recognize that nitrous oxide, produced by the increasing use of high-nitrogen fertilizers and fossil fuel powered engines, was a contributing factor to depletion of the ozone layer, a stratospheric range about twenty miles above the Earth's surface. Crutzen showed how the ozone layer is formed and destroyed, and his 1970 research showed that ultraviolet radiation in the ozone layer reacts with nitrous oxide, converting the ozone to molecular oxygen and thus leaving the planet and its occupants increasingly vulnerable to the effects of ultraviolet radiation. He won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995, shared with Mario J. Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland, who studied chlorofluorocarbons.

He also modeled the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption of 1991 to propose that atomic warfare could cause a "nuclear winter" effect, a theory later popularized by Carl Sagan. In 2006 he proposed a controversial but bizarrely plausible geo-engineering response to global climate change, in which sulfur would be released into the upper atmosphere to, hopefully, block some of the sun's light and heat from reaching the planet.

Father: Jozef Crutzen (d. 1977)
Mother: Anna Gurk
Wife: Terttu Soininen (m. Feb-1958, two daughters)
Daughter: Ilona (nurse, b. Dec-1958)
Daughter: Sylvia (marketing executive, b. Mar-1964)

    University: BS equiv. Civil Engineering, Amsterdam Technical College (1954)
    University: MS Mathematics and Meteorology, University of Stockholm (1963)
    Scholar: Computer Programmer, University of Stockholm (1958-63)
    University: PhD Meteorology, University of Stockholm (1968)
    Scholar: Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University (1969-71)
    University: DSc Meteorology, University of Stockholm (1973)
    Teacher: Atmospheric Sciences, Colorado State University (1976-81)
    Scholar: Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany (1980-83)
    Administrator: Scientific Director, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany (1983-85)
    Scholar: Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany (1985-2000)
    Professor: Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago (1987-91)
    Professor: Scripps Research Institute (1992-2008)
    Professor: Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utrecht (1997-2000)
    Scholar: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria (2004-)

    APS Leo Szilard Award 1985
    Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement 1989
    Volvo Environmental Prize 1991
    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1995 (with Mario J. Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland)
    Grand Federal Cross of Merit Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany 1996
    H. Julian Allen Award 1998
    Science Reviewing Editor (1993-99)
    US Official National Center for Atmospheric Research (1974-80)
    US Official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Aeronomy Laboratory (1974-77)
    Home Construction Bureau, City of Gaevle, Sweden (1958-59)
    Engineering Dept, City of Amsterdam (1954-58)
    Academia Europaea 1988
    Accademia dei Lincei 1997
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences Foreign Member, 1986
    American Geophysical Union Foreign Member, 1986
    American Meteorological Society Foreign Member, 1997
    American Philosophical Society International Member, 2007
    European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities 1996
    European Geophysical Society 1997
    European Geosciences Union 2004
    European Space Research Organisation Fellowship, 1969-71
    German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina Foreign Member, 1991
    National Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 1994
    Pontifical Academy of Sciences 1996
    Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences 1990
    Royal Society Foreign Member, 2006
    Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering 1991
    Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1991
    Russian Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 1999
    Swedish Meteorological Society 2000
    World Academy of Art and Science 2006
    World Innovation Foundation 2002
    Polish Ancestry
    German Ancestry
    Dutch Ancestry
    Asteroid Namesake 9679 Crutzen

Author of books:
Atmosphere, Climate, and Change (1995, with Thomas E. Graedel)


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