Tihomir Novakov

Last updated
Tihomir Novakov
Born(1929-03-16)March 16, 1929
DiedJanuary 2, 2015(2015-01-02) (aged 85)
Alma mater University of Belgrade
Marica Cvetković
(m. 19542014)
(her death)
Children Anna Novakov

Tihomir Novakov, Ph.D known also as Tica Novakov (March 16, 1929 – January 2, 2015) was a Serbian-born American physicist. As a scientist, Novakov is known for his black carbon, air quality, and climate change research. James Hansen dubbed him "the godfather of black carbon". [1]


Early life

Novakov was born in Sombor, Serbia, in 1929. His father was a veterinarian and his mother was a homemaker. While in high school, Novakov began to build X-ray tubes and radios, furthering his scientific knowledge on his own.

After graduating from the University of Belgrade with a PhD in nuclear physics, he taught at the University of Belgrade and worked at the Vinča Nuclear Institute. Novakov migrated to the United States in 1963 and began working as a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He later founded an Aerosol Research Group which traveled the world conducting research on climate change.


In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Novakov's group was the first to apply X-ray photoelectron and Raman spectroscopy to samples of atmospheric aerosols, which helped to establish the existence of a large elemental or soot fraction and provided definitive identification of physical structures similar to graphite and activated carbon in urban and remote aerosols, including in the Arctic. Following these discoveries, Novakov coined the term "black carbon" to refer to the sunlight absorbing portion of ambient particulate matter. Novakov’s aerosol research group, which included Hal Rosen, Ted Chang, Anthony Hansen, Ray Dod and Lara Gundel, developed new analytical techniques for measuring black carbon, the most notable of which is the aethalometer. The aethalometer, the name of which is derived from a Greek word that means "to blacken with soot", is today the mostly widely used instrument worldwide for measuring atmospheric concentrations of black carbon. Novakov hosted the first International Conference on Carbonaceous Particles in the Atmosphere at LBNL in 1978 to provide a forum for scientists to discuss this emerging research field. The conference series continues today alternating every few years between Berkeley and Vienna.

Novakov was a distinguished member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.


Novakov has had his work published hundreds of times in peer-reviewed journals and his work has been cited in over 6,000 articles. In October 1974, Science published "Sulfates as pollution particulates: catalytic formation on carbon (soot) particles", which Novakov co-wrote with S. G. Chang and A. B. Harker. [2] In 1984, "The Aethalometer – an instrument for the real-time measurement of optical-absorption by aersosol-particles", co-written with Anthony Hansen and Hal Rosen, was published in Science of the Total Environment . [3] "Large contribution of organic aerosols to cloud-condensation nuclei concentrations", co-written with Joyce Penner, was published by Nature in 1993. [4] "Evidence that the spectral dependence of light absorption by aerosols is affected by organic carbon", written by Thomas Kirchstetter, Novakov, and Peter Hobbs, was published in Journal of Geophysical Research in 2004. [5] Novakov's final publication, "The black carbon story: early history and new perspectives", co-written with Rosen, was published in Ambio in 2013. [6]

Personal life

Novakov was married to Marica Cvetković from 1954 until her death in 2014. The couple had a daughter, Anna Novakov, now an art history professor at Saint Mary's College of California.

Novakov died on January 2, 2015, in Kensington, California from natural causes, aged 85. [7]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nuclear winter</span> Hypothetical climatic effect of nuclear war

Nuclear winter is a severe and prolonged global climatic cooling effect that is hypothesized to occur after widespread firestorms following a large-scale nuclear war. The hypothesis is based on the fact that such fires can inject soot into the stratosphere, where it can block some direct sunlight from reaching the surface of the Earth. It is speculated that the resulting cooling would lead to widespread crop failure and famine. When developing computer models of nuclear-winter scenarios, researchers use the conventional bombing of Hamburg, and the Hiroshima firestorm in World War II as example cases where soot might have been injected into the stratosphere, alongside modern observations of natural, large-area wildfire-firestorms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Smoke</span> Mass of airborne particulates and gases

Smoke is a suspension of airborne particulates and gases emitted when a material undergoes combustion or pyrolysis, together with the quantity of air that is entrained or otherwise mixed into the mass. It is commonly an unwanted by-product of fires, but may also be used for pest control (fumigation), communication, defensive and offensive capabilities in the military, cooking, or smoking. It is used in rituals where incense, sage, or resin is burned to produce a smell for spiritual or magical purposes. It can also be a flavoring agent and preservative.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aerosol</span> Suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in air or another gas

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Global dimming</span> Reduction in the amount of sunlight reaching Earths surface

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  1. Chen, Allan. "Carbonaceous Aerosols and Climate Change: How Researchers Proved Black Carbon is a Significant Force in the Atmosphere". Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  2. Novakov, T.; Chang, S. G.; Harker, A. B. (1974). "Sulfates as Pollution Particulates: Catalytic Formation on Carbon (Soot) Particles". Science. 186 (4160): 259–261. Bibcode:1974Sci...186..259N. doi:10.1126/science.186.4160.259. PMID   17782021. S2CID   28918312.
  3. Hansen, A.D.A. (July 1984). "The aethalometer — An instrument for the real-time measurement of optical absorption by aerosol particles". Science of the Total Environment. 36: 191–196. Bibcode:1984ScTEn..36..191H. doi:10.1016/0048-9697(84)90265-1. S2CID   95269222.
  4. Novakov, T.; Penner, J. E. (1993). "Large contribution of organic aerosols to cloud-condensation-nuclei concentrations". Nature. 365 (6449): 823–826. Bibcode:1993Natur.365..823N. doi:10.1038/365823a0. S2CID   4271804.
  5. Kirchstetter, Thomas W. (2004). "Evidence that the spectral dependence of light absorption by aerosols is affected by organic carbon". Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. 109 (D21): D21208. Bibcode:2004JGRD..10921208K. doi:10.1029/2004JD004999.
  6. Novakov, Tica (2013). "The Black Carbon Story: Early History and New Perspectives". Ambio. 42 (7): 840–851. doi:10.1007/s13280-013-0392-8. PMC   3790137 . PMID   23558981.
  7. Thomas Kirchstetter (January 2015). "Tihomir Novakov, 1929–2015". Energy Technologies Area.