Water Vapor, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Ozone (O3), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O) are generally considered to be the most important greenhouse gases.
In this section of the website we provide information on the following greenhouse gases:
Although people speak of “greenhouse” gases, and like glass in a greenhouse they keep the earth warmer than would otherwise be the case, the way they heat the atmosphere is not like that of glass in a greenhouse. While the sun is shining on the earth it heats up as a result of incoming short-wave radiation; as the earth heats up it gives off some of that heat in the form of outgoing long-wave radiation. Just as photographic filters can block light of specific wave-lengths so the “greenhouse“ gases absorb heat in specific wave-lengths and stop it from leaving the earth. Figure 1
shows the outgoing heat radiation at ground level, the radiation which “escapes” to space and the effect of greenhouse gases.