Research interests: energy and environmental systems; atmospheric and climate modeling; engineering, economic development, and resource management; oceans and geophysics; science, technology, and public policy; energy, environment, and sustainability.
Michael McElroy studies changes in the composition of the atmosphere with an emphasis on the impact of human activity. His research includes investigations of processes affecting the abundance of ozone in the stratosphere and factors influencing the chemical composition of the troposphere. It explores the manner in which changes in the composition of the atmosphere affect climate.
Professor McElroy seeks to place the impact of contemporary human activity in a larger context by studying large-scale changes in the environment that occurred in the past. His research addresses also challenges for public policy posed by the rapid pace of industrialization in developing countries such as China and India while exploring alternative strategies for more sustainable development in mature economies such as the United States. He is the Chair of the Harvard China Project, which researches the environmental changes, atmospheric systems, and their impact on populations in China.