richard turco

Richard P. Turco

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

(661) 821-1505

25000 Cannonero Court
Tehachapi CA 93561-9691



Richard Turco, now retired from active research and teaching at UCLA, is the founding Director of UCLAs Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES). Turco worked to establish the IoES (originally, the IoE) alongside a like-minded group of concerned and dedicated faculty representing UCLA’s diverse disciplinary landscape. The IoES arose at a time when a number of serious planetary scale environmental issues –– including ozone layer depletion, global climate warming, and sustained Earth habitability –– were taking center stage internationally. Turco and colleagues felt strongly that a top-flight university like UCLA could, and should, take a lead in the quest to understand and mitigate such existential threats to human civilization. The modern IoES, which has evolved from those early beginnings, is today a broad and powerful agent for environmental truth and equity.

Turco joined the UCLA faculty in 1988, and built a wide-ranging research group focusing on environmental problems. His work addressed stratospheric ozone depletion, urban air pollution, and aerosol climatic impacts, among other scientific questions. As a member of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, Turco was well placed to organize a multidisciplinary academic program confronting what at the time was referred to as ‘global change.’

Turco proposed and managed a number of major interdisciplinary projects that launched the IoES, including a large-scale research study focusing on the Los Angeles Basin Watershed, supported by the Environmental Protection Agency; a related GIS data processing laboratory (the Regional Environmental Assessment Lab –– REAL-GIS), sponsored by Intel, Microsoft and Dell, was also developed. GLOBE in the City, an NSF-funded project carried out with faculty, students and staff from the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, introduced high school classes across Los Angeles to the science and practice of air quality monitoring and analysis (GLOBE, Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment, is a program initiated by then Vice President Al Gore). Turco also collaborated with faculty and students at the Anderson School of Management to organize and execute a novel state-funded economic-based assessment of pollutant emissions associated with the Hollywood Film Industry. More expansively, Turco inaugurated the IoES’s annual Southern Californian EnvironmentalReport Card, which sought to connect research at UCLA with environmental interests throughout the region.

La Kretz Hall, home of the IoES, was built and occupied during Turco’s directorship, and the initial coterie of motivated faculty were recruited to launch the program. The first proposal for an IoES PhD program, in Environmental Systems and Analysis, was organized by Turco in the early 2000’s.

Turco currently resides on a 20-acre ‘ranch’ in the Tehachapi Mountains north of Los Angeles with his wife, Linda, and (presently) dogs, Lucky and Willy.


B.S. Electrical Engineering, Rutgers University
M.S. Electrical Engineering/Physics, University of Illinois
Ph.D. Electrical Engineering/Physics, University of Illinois

Areas of Expertise

Atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric radiation, aerosol microphysics, climate processes, and planetary atmospheres; volcanic influences on climate, nuclear winter, global climatic impacts of aircraft emissions, and Los Angeles air pollution; development of computer algorithms to solve environmental problems.


Over his research career, Turco spearheaded many dozens of major projects funded by the NSF, EPA, NASA, the Department of Energy, and other national and state agencies. Examples of this work relevant to the IoES are noted above. Turco’s contributions in other more disciplinary scientific areas are summarized in his resume, and in the publications listed below.


Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
MacArthur Foundation Fellowship
UCLA Faculty Research Lectureship
Leo Szilard Prize for Physics in the Public Interest, American Physical Society

Publications (selected)

“Chlorofluoromethanes in the stratosphere and some possible consequences for ozone,” R. P. Turco and R. C. Whitten, Atmos. Environ., 9, 1045–1061 (1975).

“SST’s, nitrogen fertilizer, and stratospheric ozone,” R. P. Turco, R. C. Whitten, I. G. Poppoff and L. A. Capone, Nature, 276, 805–807 (1978).

 “A one-dimensional model describing aerosol formation and evolution in the stratosphere: Part I. Physical processes and mathematical analogs,” R. P. Turco, P. Hamill, O. B. Toon, R. C. Whitten and C. S. Kiang, J. Atmos. Sci., 36, 699–717 (1979).

 “Stratospheric aerosol modification by supersonic transport and space shuttle operations—climate implications,” R. P. Turco, O. B. Toon, J. B. Pollack, R. C. Whitten, I. G. Poppoff and P. Hamill, J. Appl. Meteorol., 19, 78–89 (1980).

“A physical model of Titan’s clouds,” O. B. Toon, R. P. Turco and J. B. Pollack, ICARUS, 43, 260–282 (1980).

“The Tunguska meteor fall of 1908: Effects on stratospheric ozone,” R. P. Turco, O. B. Toon, C. Park, R. C. Whitten, J. B. Pollack and P. Noerdlinger, Science, 214, 19–23 (1981).

“Noctilucent clouds: Simulation studies of their genesis, properties and global influences,” R. P. Turco, O. B. Toon, R. C. Whitten, R. G. Keesee and D. Hollenbach, Planet. Space Sci., 30, 1147–1181 (1982).

“Nuclear winter: Global consequences of multiple nuclear explosions,” R. P. Turco, O. B. Toon, T. P. Ackerman, J. B. Pollack and C. Sagan, Science, 222, 1283–1292 (1983).

 “The 1980 eruptions of Mount St. Helens: Physical and chemical processes in the stratospheric clouds,” R. P. Turco, O. B. Toon, R. C. Whitten, P. Hamill and R. G. Keesee, J. Geophys. Res., 88, 5299–5319 (1983)

 “Environmental effects of an impact generated dust cloud: Implications for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinctions,” J. B. Pollack, O. B. Toon, T. P. Ackerman, C. P. McKay and R. P. Turco, Science, 219, 287–289 (1983).

“Venus: Mesospheric hazes of ice, dust and acid aerosols,” R. P. Turco, O. B. Toon, R. C. Whitten and R. G. Keesee, ICARUS,53, 18–25 (1983).

“Heterogeneous physicochemistry of the polar ozone hole,” R. P. Turco, O. B. Toon and P. Hamill, J. Geophys. Res.,94, 16,493–16,510 (1989).

“Policy implications of nuclear winter,” R. P. Turco and C. Sagan, Ambio, 18, 372–376 (1989).

A Path Where no Man Thought: Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race, C. Sagan and R. P. Turco, Random House , 499 pp. (1990).

“Global environmental engineering,” R. J. Cicerone, S. Elliott and R. P. Turco, Nature, 356, 472 (1992).

“Use of general circulation model output in the creation of climate change scenarios for impact analysis,” A. Robock, R. P. Turco, M. A. Harwell, T. P. Ackerman, R. Andressen, H.-S. Chang and M.V.K. Sivakumar, Climatic Change, 23, 293–335 (1993).

“Nuclear winter in the post-cold war era,” C. Sagan and R. P. Turco, J. of Peace Res., 30, 369–373 (1993).

“Stratospheric chlorine injection by volcanic eruptions: HCl scavenging and implications for ozone,” A. Tabazadeh and R. P. Turco, Science, 260, 1082–1086 (1993).

“Global environmental engineering: Prospects and pitfalls,” R. P. Turco, Chapter 7, Human Population and the Environmental Crisis, Jones and Bartlett Publ., Sudbury, Mass., pp. 93–113 (1995).

“Ozone distributions over the Los Angeles basin: Three-dimensional simulations with the SMOG model,” R. Lu and R. Turco, Atmos. Environ., 30, 4155–4176 (1996).

Earth Under Siege: From Air Pollution to Global Change, R. P. Turco, Oxford University Press, New York, 527 pp. (1997; 2002).

“Particle size distributions in an expanding plume undergoing simultaneous coagulation and condensation,” R. P. Turco and F. Yu, J. Geophys. Res., 104, 19,227–19,241 (1999).

“Dry deposition of airborne trace metals on the Los Angeles Basin and adjacent coastal waters,” R. Lu, R. P. Turco, K. Stolzenbach, S. K. Friedlander, C. Xiong, K. Schiff, L. Tiefenthaler and G. Wang, J. Geophys. Res., 108, doi:10.1029/2001JD001446 (2003).

“Human impacts on climate,” M. A. Geller, R. P. Turco, et al., First Official Position Statement of the American Geophysical Union on Global Climate Change, EOS/AGU (2004).

“Naphthalene distributions and human exposure in Southern California,” R. Lu, J. Wu, R. P. Turco, A. M. Winer, R. Atkinson, J. Arey, S. E. Paulson, F. W. Lurmann, A. H. Miguel and A. Eiguren-Fernandez, Atmos. Environ., 39, 489–507 (2005).

“Consequences of regional scale nuclear conflicts,” O. B. Toon, A. Robock, R. P. Turco, C. Bardeen, L. Oman and G. L. Stenchikov, Science, 315, 1224-1225 (2007).

“An overview of geoengineering of climate using stratospheric sulphate aerosols,” P. J. Rasch, S. Tilmes, R. P. Turco, A. Robock, L. Oman, C.-C. Chen, G. L. Stenchikov and R. R. Garcia, Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. A, 366, 4007-4037 doi:10.1098/rsta.2008.0131 (2008).

IoES Reports

 “Integrated Urban Watershed Analysis: The Los Angeles Basin and Coastal Environment,” R. P. Turco, R. Ambrose, R. Berk, J. Dracup, J. Feddema, P. Fong, G. Forrester, R. Fovell, S. Friedlander, W. Hamner, G. MacDonald, J. McWilliams, A. Orme, M. Raphael, M. Stenstrom, K. Stolzenbach, I. Suffet, S. Trimble, R. Vance, I. Venkatesan, H. Walter, with H. Arango, P. DiGiacomo, R. Lu, P. Marchesiello, T. Piechota, D. Silverman, M. Steele, C. Xiong, et al., Final Technical Report, Environmental Protection Agency R82-5381, Institute of the Environment Report #02-02, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, August 2002, 170 pp. (2002).

“Sustainability in the Motion Picture Industry,” C. J. Corbett and R. P. Turco, Report to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, UCLA Institute of the Environment, Sacramento CA, 114 pp., November 2006 (2006) [document available at:].


Southern Californian Environmental Report Card 2003

Ann E. Carlson, Arthur M. Winer

Report Card | 2003

Southern Californian Environmental Report Card 2002

Arthur M. Winer, Richard Berk, Richard P. Turco

Report Card | 2002

Southern Californian Environmental Report Card 2001

Arthur M. Winer, Richard P. Turco,

Report Card | 2001

Southern Californian Environmental Report Card 2000

Arthur M.Winer, Richard Berk, Richard P.Turco

Report Card | 2000

Southern Californian Environmental Report Card 1998

Arthur M. Winer, Richard Berk, Richard P. Turco, Michael Stenstrom, Johannes Feddema, Richard F. Ambrose

Report Card | 1998