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Greenhouse Gas the Carbon Dioxide and Its Role in Global Environmental Change

Greenhouse Gas the Carbon Dioxide and Its Role in Global Environmental Change

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Published by: vivian augustin on Jun 26, 2008
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Greenhouse gas the carbon dioxide and its role in global environmentalchangeDr.Kedar Karki M.V.St.Preventive Veterinary MedicineSenior Veterinary OfficerCentral Veterinary LaboratoryTripureshwor Kathmandu Nepal
Greenhouse gases are the gases present in theatmospherewhich reduce theloss of heat into space and therefore contribute to global temperaturesthrough the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases are essential to maintainingthe temperature of theEarth; without them the planet would be so cold as tobe uninhabitable.
However, an excess of greenhouse gases can raise thetemperature of a planetto lethal levels, as onVenuswhere the 96.5% carbon  dioxide (CO
)atmosphere results in surface temperatures of about 467 °C(872 °F). Greenhouse gases are produced by many natural and industrial processes, which currently result in CO
levels of 380  ppmv in the atmosphere.Based on ice-core samples and records (see graphs) current levels of CO
areapproximately 100 ppmv higher than during immediately pre-industrial times,when direct human influence was negligible.
Increasing atmosphericCO
levels as measured in the atmosphere andice cores. Bottom: The amount of net carbon increase in the atmosphere,compared to carbon emissions from burningfossil fuel.
When sunlight reaches the surface of the Earth, some of it is absorbed andwarms the surface. Because the Earth's surface is much cooler than the sun, itradiates energyatmuch longer wavelengthsthan the sun does, peaking in the infraredat about 10 µm. The atmosphere absorbs these longer wavelengthsmore effectively than it does the shorter wavelengths from the sun. Theabsorption of this longwave radiant energy warms the atmosphere; theatmosphere is also warmed by transfer of sensibleandlatent heatfrom the surface. Greenhouse gases also
longwave radiation both upward to spaceand downward to the surface. The downward part of this longwave radiationemitted by the atmosphere is the "greenhouse effect". The term is a misnomerthough, as this process is not themechanism that warms greenhouses.On earth, the most abundant greenhouse gases are, in order of relativeabundance:
CFCsThe most important greenhouse gases are:
water vapor, which causes about 36–70% of the greenhouse effect onEarth. (Note clouds typicallyaffect climatedifferently from other formsof atmospheric water.)
carbon dioxide, which causes 9–26%
methane, which causes 4–9%
ozone, which causes 3–7%
Pattern of absorption bandscreated by greenhouse gases in the atmosphereand their effect on bothsolar radiationand upgoing thermal radiationIt is not possible to state that a certain gas causes a certain percentage of thegreenhouse effect, because the influences of the various gases are notadditive. (The higher ends of the ranges quoted are for the gas alone; thelower ends, for the gas counting overlaps.)
Other greenhouse gases include,but are not limited to,nitrous oxide,sulfur hexafluoride,hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbonsandchlorofluorocarbons(seeIPCC list of greenhouse gases). The major atmospheric constituents (nitrogen, N
) are notgreenhouse gases. This is becausehomonuclear diatomic moleculessuch as N
and O
neither absorb nor emitinfraredradiation, as there is no net change inthedipole momentof these molecules when they vibrate. Molecular vibrationsoccur at energies that are of the same magnitude as the energy of the photonson infrared light. Heteronuclear diatomics such as CO or HCl absorb IR;however, these molecules are short-lived in the atmosphere owing to theirreactivity and solubility. As a consequence they do not contribute significantlyto the greenhouse effect.Late 19th century scientists experimentally discovered that N
and O
did notabsorb infrared radiation (called, at that time, "dark radiation") and that CO
and many other gases did absorb such radiation. It was recognized in the early20th century that the known major greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causedthe earth's temperature to be higher than it would have been without thegreenhouse gases.

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