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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.

Glossary : Greenhouse Gas

A gaseous component of the atmosphere contributing to the greenhouse effect. 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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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF