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John Mak




- University of California, San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Research Topics:

Trace gas isotopic composition for the reconstruction of atmospheric chemistry in the paleo atmosphere, trace gas emissions from the biosphere, development of instrumentation platforms for research aircraft.

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  • Bio/Research


    In 2010 we published a paper that indicated the contribution of biomass burning to the Southern Hemisphere was much more variable in past centuries than previously supposed (Z. Wang*, J. Chappellaz, K.H. Park*, and   J.E. Mak,   Large Variations in Southern Hemisphere Biomass Burning During the Last 650 Years, Science, 30, 1663-1666, 2010 )  and   Additional PDF. As a followup to this work we are analyzing samples for   13C and   18O in CO from the Vostok ice core and from WAIS Divide. In 2015 we were funded by NSF to analyze samples from the recently drilled South Pole Ice Core ( SPICECORE.ORG) to extend the paleo-CO record to the last glacial maximum (LGM). In addition to this work, we are developing a new analytical technique to measure   17O in CO from ice cores. C 17O has been shown to be an effective proxy of OH abundance, thus measuring   17CO from ice cores will allow us to constrain OH in the paleo atmosphere.

    In 2013 we were funded by the US EPA (along with co-PIs Alex Guenther, UC Irvine, and Allen Goldstein, UC Berkeley) to participate in the SAS ( Southeast Atmosphere Study). During the summer of 2013 my team of 6 spent 6 weeks in Alabama quantifying the emissions and chemistry of select OVOC’s including acetaldehyde, acetone, methyl butenol, and select terpenes from our own aircraft and a forest tower using our high resolution time of flight proton transfer mass spectrometer (PTR-TOFMS). Senior PhD candidate Luping Su has been working on the quantification of OVOCs (oxygenated volatile organic compounds) for eddy covariance studies using the PTR-TOFMS data (see Su et al., ACP, doi:10.5194/acp-16-7725-2016). He is currently using three different boundary layer models to help interpret our observations.

    We also develop instrumentation for research aircraft, including the WASP (Whole Air Sample Profiler) system that was deployed in the summer of 2013 in Alabama. In 2016 we were part of a team that published a cover article in BAMS showing unique and novel airborne observations of boundary layer turbulence (

    Educational interests

    Over the past two years we have implemented a Masters Class series of lectures/workshops for local high school science teachers and students. The initial goal was to provide keynote lectures on relevant topics in the environmental sciences to help local high school science teachers maintain currency in various disciplines; however because of the positive feedback from both educators and administrators, we decided to invite high school science students to subsequent lectures. This pilot program started out with two lectures in 2015 at the Mount Sinai School District, and will continue with three more lectures in 2016. Professor Mak gave the first two lectures of the series (on the efficiency of hybrid vehicles, and on climate forcing).

    Gilbert Spencer, a sophomore at Half Hollow Hills High School, is currently working with graduate students to help best characterize the age distribution of air trapped in ice at the WAIS (West Antarctic Ice Sheet) Divide site in Antarctica. This is part of Mak’s NSF sponsored research in reconstructing the sources of atmospheric carbon monoxide by analyzing the stable isotopic composition of CO in ice core bubbles.

    News related to the Mak Lab

    In 2020, our latest project was funded by the National Science Foundation;   GOTHAAM  (GreaterNY Oxidant, Trace gas, Halogen and Aerosol Airborne Mission). This highly collaborative project will utilize NSF’s Hercules C-130 research aircraft, which is operated by the Environmental Observations Laboratory (EOL) of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). SOMAS at Stony Brook is the lead institution (Mak is the lead PI), and will be joined by colleagues from the University of Washington, University of California at Irvine, Colorado State University, University of Colorado, University of Michigan, and University of Maryland. This project was originally scheduled for the summer of 2021, however because of the pandemic, the project now will be postponed until the summer of 2023.

    What Can Ice Reveal About Fire? from NSF (2010)

    Research Highlight: Dr. John Mak’s Research on the Use of Isotopes as Tracers of the Chemistry, Origin and Transport in Atmospheric and Marine Environments (2011)

    Stony Brook Professor John Mak Flies into New Research Territory

    Research Highlight: SoMAS Leading IMPOWR Field Study to Improve Offshore Wind Mapping and Forecasting

  • Publications


    Carlton, A.M., J. de Gouw, J.L. Jimenez, J.L. Ambrose, S. Brown, K.R. Baker, C.A. Brock, R.C. Cohen, S. Edgerton, C. Farkas, D. Farmer, A.H. Goldstein, L. Gratz, A. Guenther, S. Hunt, L. Jaeglé, D.A. Jaffe,  J.E. Mak, C. McClure, A. Nenes, T.K.V. Nguyen, J.R. Pierce, N. Selin, V. Shah, S. Shaw, P.B. Shepson, S. Song, J. Stutz, J. Surratt, B.J. Turpin, C. Warneke, R.A. Washenfelder, P.O. Wennberg, X. Zhou. The Southeast Atmosphere Studies (SAS): coordinated investigation and discovery to answer critical questions about fundamental atmospheric processes.  Bull. Am. Met. Soc., 99(3): 547-567, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0048.1, 2018.

    B. Colle, M. Sienkiewicz, C. Archer, D. Veron, F. Veron, W. Kimpton, and  J.E. Mak, Meteorological Observations for U.S. East Coast Offshore Wind Power:  Improving the Mapping and Prediction of Offshore Wind Resources (IMPOWR),  Bull. Am. Met. Soc., 97, 8, 1377-1390, 2016.

    L. Su*, E.G. Patton, J. Vilà-Guerau de Arellano, A.B. Guenther, L. Kaser, B. Yuan, F. Xiong, P.B. Shepson, L. Zhang, D.O. Miller, W.H. Brune, K. Baumann, E. Edgerton, A. Weinheimer, P.K. Misztal, J.-H. Park, A.H. Goldstein, K.M. Skog, F.N. Keutsch and  J.E. Mak Understanding isoprene photo-oxidation using observations and modeling over a subtropical forest in the Southeast US,  Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 7725-7741, doi:10.5194/acp-16-7725-2016, 2016.

    K.H. Park*, Z. Wang, L. K. Emmons,  J. E. Mak, Variation of atmospheric CO, δ 13C and δ 18O at high northern latitude during 2004-2009: observations and model simulations,  J. Geophys.Res.- Atmos., 120, 11,024–11,036, doi:10.1002/2015JD023191, 2015.

    P.K. Misztal et al., inc.  J.E. Mak, Atmospheric benzenoid emissions from plants rival those from fossil fuel,  Nature Sci. Rep., 5, 12064, 2015.

    K.H. Park*, L. K. Emmons, Z. Wang and  J. E. Mak, Joint Application of Concentration and δ 18O to Investigate the Global Atmospheric CO Budget,  Atmosphere6, 547-578; doi:10.3390/atmos6050547, 2015.

    R. Thalman et al., inc  J.E. Mak, Instrument inter-comparison of glyoxal, methyl glyoxal and NO 2 under simulated atmospheric conditions,  Atmos. Meas. Tech., 8, 1835-1862, 2015.

    J.E. Mak, L. Su*, A. Guenther, T. Karl, A Novel Whole Air Sample Profiler (WASP) for Collecting Vertical Profiles of Selected Volatile Organic Compounds above a Forest Canopy,  Atmos. Meas. Tech., 6, 4153-4182, 2013.

    J. Peñuelas et al., inc  J.E. Mak, Intensive measurements of gas, water, and energy exchange between vegetation and troposphere during the MONTES campaign in a vegetation gradient from short semi-desertic shrublands to tall wet temperate forests in the NW Mediterranean Basin,  Atmos. Env., 75, 348-364, 2013.

    K.H. Park*, L. Emmons,  J.E. Mak, Large Interannual Variations in Biogenic Volatile Organic Compound Emissions based on Measurements of Carbon Monoxide,  Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 1, 221-226, 2013.

    V. Petrenko et al., inc. Z. Wang* and  J.E. Mak, A 60 Year Record of Atmospheric Carbon Monoxide Reconstructed from Greenland Firn Air,  Atmos. Chem. Phys. Disc., 12, 18993-19037, 2012.

    Z. Wang*, J. Chappellaz, P. Martinerie, K. Park, V. Petrenko, T. Blunier, C. Brenninkmeijer,  J. E. Mak, The isotopic record of Northern Hemisphere atmospheric carbon monoxide since 1950; Implications for the CO budget,  Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 4365-4377, 2012.

    P. Oikawa*, M. Giebel, L. Sternberg, L. Li, M. Timko, P. Swart, D. Riemer,  J.E. Mak, M.T. Lerdau, Leaf and root pectin methylesterase activity and  13C/ 12C stable isotopic ratio measurements of methanol emissions give insight into methanol production in  Lycopersicon esculentumNew Phytologist, 191, 4, 1031-1040, 2011.

    P. Oikawa*, L. Li,  J.E. Mak, M. Timko, M.T. Lerdau, Indirect effects of light on MeOH emissions in Lycopersicon esculentum,  Biogeosciences, 8, 4, 1023-1030, 2011.

    Z. Wang*, J. Chappellaz, K.H. Park*, and  J.E. Mak, Large Variations in Southern Hemisphere Biomass Burning During the Last 650 Years,  Science, 30, 1663-1666, 2010.

    Z. Wang* and  J.E. Mak, A new CF-IRMS system for the quantification of the stable isotopes of carbon monoxide from ice cores and small air samples,  Atmos. Meas. Tech., 3, 1307-1317, 2010.

    K. Jardine*, T. Karl, M. Lerdau, P. Harley, A. Guenther,  J.E. Mak, Carbon isotope analysis of acetaldehyde emitted from leaves following mechanical stress and anoxia,  Plant Biology, 11, 4, 591-597, 2009.

    K. Jardine*, P. Harley, T. Karl, A. Guenther, M. Lerdau,  J.E. Mak, Plant physiological and environmental controls over the exchange of acetaldehyde between forest canopies and the atmosphere,  Biogeosciences, 5, 1559-1572, 2008.

     M.C. Krol, J-F Meirink, P Bergamaschi,  J.E. Mak, D. Lowe, P. Jöckel, S. Houweling, What do  14CO measurements tell us?,  Atmos. Chem. Phys., 8, 16, 5033-5044, 2008.

    J. Lelieveld, C.A.M. Brenninkmeijer, P. Joeckel, I. Isaaksen, M. Krohl,  J.E. Mak, E. Dlugokencky, S.A. Montzka, P.C. Novelli, P.P. Tans, New Directions: Watching over tropospheric hydroxyl,  Atmos. Env., 40, 5741-5746, 2006.

    J. Funk*,  J.E. Mak, M.T. Lerdau, Stress-induced changes in carbon sources for isoprene production in  Populus deltoidsPlant, Cell and Environment, 27, 6, 747-755, 2004.

    N. Landman, J. K. Cochran,  J.E. Mak, R. Cerrato, Habitat and age of the giant squid ( Architeuthis sanctipauli) inferred from isotopic analyses,  Mar. Bio., 144, 685-691, 2004.

    T.S. Rhee,  J.E. Mak, T. Rockmann, C.A.M. Brenninkmeijer, Continuous-flow isotope analysis of the D/H ratio in atmospheric H 2Rap. Comm. Mass. Spect., 18, 299-306, 2003.

    J.E. Mak, T. Sandomenico*, P. Bergamaschi, Stable isotopic composition of carbon monoxide at a remote tropical Atlantic site,  J. Geophys. Res., 108, D20, 4635-4642, 2003.

    Z. Zhu*, R.C. Aller,  J.E. Mak, Stable carbon isotope cycling in mobile coastal muds of Amapa, Brazil,  Cont. Shelf Res., 22, 2065-2079, 2002.

    J.E. Mak, M.R. Manning, D.C. Lowe, Aircraft observations of d 13C of atmospheric methane over the Pacific in August 1991 and 1993: Evidence of an enrichment in  13CH 4 in the Southern Hemisphere,  J. Geophys. Res., 105, D1, 1329-1335, 2000.

    J.E. Mak, J.R. Southon, and C.A.M. Brenninkmeijer, Direct measurement of  14C production rates at Earth’s surface,  Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 22, 3381-3384, 1999.

    J.E. Mak and W. Yang, A technique for analysis of air samples for  13C and  18O in carbon monoxide via continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry,  J. Anal. Chem., 70, 5159-5161, 1998.

    J.E. Mak and J.R. Southon, Assessment of tropical OH seasonality using atmospheric  14CO measurements from Barbados,  Geophys. Res. Lett., 25, 15, 2801-2804, 1998.

    J.E. Mak and C.A.M. Brenninkmeijer, Measurement of  13CO and C 18O in the Free Troposphere,  J. Geophys. Res., 103, D15, 19347-19358, 1998.

    J.E. Mak, C.A.M. Brenninkmeijer, J. Tamaresis, Atmospheric  14CO Observations and their use for Estimating Carbon Monoxide Removal Rates,  J. Geophys. Res., 99, 22915, 1994.

    J.E. Mak and C.A.M. Brenninkmeijer, Compressed Air Sample Technology for the Isotopic Analysis of Atmospheric Carbon Monoxide,  J. Atmos. Ocean. Tech., 11, 2, 425-431, 1994.

    J.E. Mak, C.A.M. Brenninkmeijer, M.R. Manning, Evidence for a Missing Carbon Monoxide Sink Based on Tropospheric Measurements of  14CO,  Geophys. Res. Lett., 19, 14, 1467-1470, 1992.

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