Glossary : Greenhouse Gas
A gaseous component of the atmosphere
contributing to the
. Greenhouse gases are transparent to certain
wavelengths of the sun's radiant energy, allowing them to penetrate deep
into the atmosphere or all the way into the Earth's surface. Greenhouse
gases and clouds prevent some of the infrared radiation from escaping,
trapping the heat near the Earth's surface where it warms the lower
atmosphere. Alteration of this natural barrier of atmospheric gases can
raise or lower the mean global temperature of the Earth.
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide,
chloroflurocarbons, and water vapor. Carbon dioxide, methane,
and nitrous oxide have significant natural and human sources while only
industries produce chloroflurocarbons. Water vapor has the largest
greenhouse effect, but its concentration in the troposphere is
determined within the climate system. Water vapor will increase in
response to global warming, which in turn may further enhance global warming.
Courtesy of NASA
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