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Radiation from the sun is absorbed by the earth as

radiant visible light.

You feel this effect on a sunny day when you stand in

the sunshine vs. the shade.

Eventually, the heat from the earth is re-emitted into

the atmosphere as infrared radiation (IR).

The different types of electromagnetic radiation are

shown in the graphic.

Certain gases in the atmosphere have the property of

absorbing infrared radiation. Oxygen and nitrogen, the major gases in the atmosphere do not have this property. The infrared radiation strikes a molecule such as carbon dioxide and causes the bonds to bend and vibrate - this is called the absorption of IR energy. The molecule gains kinetic energy by this absorption of IR radiation. This extra kinetic energy may then be transmitted to other molecules such as oxygen and nitrogen and causes a general heating of the atmosphere.

Energy from the sun in the form of some ultraviolet

and visible light (short wavelength) passes through the glass of the greenhouse. As the light strikes various surfaces in the greenhouse and they are heated. These surfaces in turn re-radiate the heat in the form of infrared radiation (long wavelength). However, the IR radiation is blocked from escaping by the glass. IR is not able to pass through the glass, hence the greenhouse air heats up fairly dramatically. The greenhouse gases have the same property as the glass towards the IR radiation. Think of the greenhouse gases acting as an invisible glass shield around the earth.

The greenhouse gas molecules are shown along with

the IR spectra and the bending and vibrations caused by absorbing the IR radiation.
The arrows on the molecules indicate the direction of

the bends and vibrations of the bonds.

The IR spectra indicates the specific energies at certain

wavelengths which are absorbed. Radiation that is 100% transmittance is not blocked but travels straight through the sample.

The greenhouse effect is a vital factor in keeping

our planet warm enough for us to live on it.

The Sun emits electromagnetic radiation mostly as

visible light, UV radiation and infrared (IR) radiation. When this solar radiation reaches the Earths atmosphere the UV and IR radiation is mostly absorbed by atmospheric gases and some is reflected back into space from clouds.

Visible light, IR and UV radiation reaching the Earths

surface can be reflected back into space (especially from light-coloured surfaces such as snow) but the rest is absorbed by the Earth, which heats up. The Earth radiates energy back out to space as IR radiation (heat). Gases in the atmosphere can absorb some of this IR radiation and re-emit it in all directions. Some gets back to Earth again and keeps us warm.

This is called the greenhouse effect because gases in

the atmosphere act like the glass in a greenhouse, trapping some of the energy. If this didnt happen and almost all the energy was lost to space, the Earth would be about 30C cooler and we wouldnt be able to live here.

Definition: Gases which contribute to the greenhouse

effect are called greenhouse gases and are classified according their relative greenhouse factors. This term allows a comparison of the effect they will have on global warming. It is calculated by comparing the effect gases have in absorbing IR radiation relative to the effect of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. The global warming potential of a gas is calculated by combining their relative greenhouse factor (ability to absorb IR radiation) and their half-life in the atmosphere (how long they take to break down). It is a better measure of the true effects of releasing a gas into the atmosphere over its whole lifetime.

The table below shows the relative greenhouse factor

and the global warming potential for some of the most common greenhouse gases.

Determined by : Their ability to absorb infrared radiation

Expressed in watts per square meter (W/m2) Radioactive forcing also expressed in (W/m2) It depends on: The potency of the gas or the greenhouse strength The amount of increase in that gas in the atmosphere Methane is much more potent than carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide increase greater in quantity in Earths atmosphere. Net effect of global warming in carbon dioxide is thrice great in case for methane.

Their half-life in Earths atmosphere

Greenhouse gases will disappear from the atmosphere at their specific lifetime of half-life. Water vapor tends to cycle out of the atmosphere in a matter of days. Thus, it has a small global warming potential Methane takes over 12 years to disappear from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide takes centuries! As the carbon dioxide is the reference gas, therefore its GWP is precisely 1. Over 100 year of period, GWP of methane is much reduced 23. even though methane is much potent but methane is short-lived. Thus results to offset to total contribution of global warming.
BUTsome FLUOROCARBONS has GREATER POTENCY and LONGER LIFETIME. Released in large quantities of these GHG some sort will cause long term of earth global warming and thus resulting to climate change .