This animation shows how a carbon dioxide molecule vibrates when it absorbs heat.
Courtesy of UCAR (LEARN and COMET)
Earth's Greenhouse Gases
Only a tiny amount of the gases in Earth’s atmosphere
are greenhouse gases. But they
have a huge effect on climate.
There are several different types of greenhouse
gases, but they all have something in common. All of them have molecules
with three or more parts. The parts are stuck together pretty loosely. These
molecules can hold onto heat. This
makes the little parts wiggle back and forth. Eventually, the molecule will
release the heat. Another greenhouse gas molecule will probably grab onto the
heat that is released. This keeps heat near the Earth’s surface. It is called
the greenhouse effect.
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