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Greenhouse gases

 

On earth, two elements, nitrogen () and oxygen (), make up almost 99% of the volume of clean, dry air. Most of the remaining 1% is accounted for by the inert gaseous element, argon (Ar). Argon and the tiny percentage of remaining gases are referred to as trace gases.

Certain trace atmospheric gases help to heat up our planet because they appear transparent to incoming visible (shortwave) light but act as a barrier to outgoing infrared (longwave) radiation. These special trace gases are often referred to as "greenhouse gases" because a scientist in the early 19th century suggested that they function much like the glass plates found on a greenhouse used for growing plants.

The earth's atmosphere is composed of gases (for example, and ) of just the right types and in just the right amounts to warm the earth to temperatures suitable for life. The effect of the atmosphere to trap heat is the true "greenhouse effect."

We can evaluate the effect of greenhouse gases by comparing Earth with its nearest planetary neighbors, Venus and Mars. These planets either have too much greenhouse effect or too little to be able to sustain life as we know it. The differences between the three planets have been termed the "Goldilocks Principle" (Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold, but Earth is just right). http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_1_2_1t.htm

 

Teaching materials on atmospheric gases

  Vetted articles on atmospheric gases


 

Featured resources :

  • The Makeup of Earth's Atmosphere Featured Article The Makeup of Earth's Atmosphere The Makeup of Earth's Atmosphere

    Electromagnetic radiation is the dominant form of energy that is exchanged among the sun, Earth, and the void of space. The interaction between electromagnetic radiation and... More »

  • Module/Unit: Earth's Atmosphere Featured Teaching Unit Module/Unit: Earth's Atmosphere Module/Unit: Earth's Atmosphere

    SUMMARY In this lesson, students learn how atmospheric composition and circulation impact the generation of storms. Students examine the primary and variable gases that... More »

Recently Updated
Speed Science Fact Sheet: Greenhouse Gases and Agriculture - CSCAP Last Updated on 2014-07-08 16:33:09 The Greenhouse Gases and Agriculture and additional Speed Science Fact Sheets and presentation videos are approved for use in educational, research and extension settings. The fact sheets were developed and presented as "Speed Science" by the Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems CAP (CSCAP). The CSCAP is a transdisciplinary partnership among 11 institutions creating new science and educational opportunities. It seeks to increase resilience and adaptability of Midwest agriculture to more volatile weather patterns by identifying farmer practices and policies that increase sustainability while meeting crop demand. Printable flyer >> About CSCAP Project To promote the long-term sustainability and productivity of U.S. corn-based cropping systems against recent climate trends and future uncertainty. Project Objectives: Develop standardized methodologies and... More »
Speed Science Fact Sheets: Climate and Climate Change - CSCAP Last Updated on 2014-07-03 12:57:28 The Speed Science Fact Sheets and presentation videos are approved for use in educational, research and extension settings. The fact sheets were developed and presented as "Speed Science"  by the Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems CAP (CSCAP). The CSCAP is a transdisciplinary partnership among 11 institutions creating new science and educational opportunities. It seeks to increase resilience and adaptability of Midwest agriculture to more volatile weather patterns by identifying farmer practices and policies that increase sustainability while meeting crop demand. Printable flyer >>  About CSCAP Project To promote the long-term sustainability and productivity of U.S. corn-based cropping systems against recent climate trends and future uncertainty. Project Objectives: Develop standardized methodologies and perform baseline monitoring of carbon,... More »
Speed Science Fact Sheet: Soil Organic Carbon Cycle - CSCAP Last Updated on 2014-07-03 12:49:55 The Soil Organic Carbon Cycle Fact Sheet and additional Speed Science Fact Sheets and presentation videos are approved for use in educational, research and extension settings. The fact sheets were developed and presented as "Speed Science" by the Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems CAP (CSCAP). The CSCAP is a transdisciplinary partnership among 11 institutions creating new science and educational opportunities. It seeks to increase resilience and adaptability of Midwest agriculture to more volatile weather patterns by identifying farmer practices and policies that increase sustainability while meeting crop demand. Printable flyer >> About CSCAP Project To promote the long-term sustainability and productivity of U.S. corn-based cropping systems against recent climate trends and future uncertainty. Project Objectives: Develop standardized... More »
Lifestyle, technology and CO2 emissions in China Last Updated on 2014-06-28 17:59:40 Introduction China as the world’s largest developing country and the most populous country has achieved notable success in developing their economy with approximate 10 percent average annual growth of GDP over the last two decades [1-3]. Large sections of the population have been experiencing a transition from ‘poverty’ to ‘adequate food and clothing’; today growing parts of the population are getting closer to ‘well to do’ lifestyles [3]. However, the rapid growth of the economy has not only lead to dramatic changes of wealth and people’s lifestyle, but has also caused a huge amount of resources and energy consumption and associated CO2 and other emissions creating serious environmental problems on both local, regional and global scales [4-6]. Between 1990 and 2004 China’s total energy consumption has grown 5.0% annually from... More »
Lesson Plans: Global Climate Change: The Effects of Global Warming - CLEAN Last Updated on 2014-04-04 15:30:43 Selection for the CLEAN Collection. Summary by the CLEAN reviewers:  Activity takes three to four class periods. Technology to show videos and additional materials are needed. The activity follows a progression that examines the CO2 content of various gases, explores the changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2 from 1958 to 2000 from the Mauna Loa Keeling curve, and the relationship between CO2 and temperature over the past 160,000 years. This provides a foundation for examining individuals' input of CO2 to the atmosphere and how to reduce it. Objectives by the developer of the original resource. www.teachersdomain.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.watcyc.lp_global2/ Understand how atmospheric levels of CO2 relate to climate change and global warming. Explore the effects of global warming on the environment, as indicated by the changes in Earth's glacial ice. Consider the... More »