Fun Facts About Green House Gases
What is the Green House Effect?
A green house gas traps heat. Green house gases are thought by some scientists to be contributing to climate change or global warming on Planet Earth.
Farmers and horticulturists build greenhouses to grow plants in a warm humid setting regardless of the outside weather conditions. Sunlight enters the green house through glass panels in the roof. The sunlight carries energy in the form of light. The light is converted to heat inside the structure. This heat is trapped inside the structure of the house, including the glass. The inside of the green house heats up significantly in comparison to the outside, even in the Winter. Cars and trucks demonstrate the same behavior because they are built with large areas of glass. Your car is a miniature green house to the extent that heat enters through the windows and windshield, but cannot escape as easily. The interior of the vehicle experiences an increase in temperature relative to the air outside.
Some scientists say that the green house effect is necessary for life to exist on Earth in its current form. They calculate that without the green house effect the Earth would be about 80 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than it is now.
What is a Green House Gas?
Out planet does not have a wrapping of glass, as a traditional green
house does, but we do have an atmosphere that protects us from
ultraviolet radiation and also holds in enough heat to make the Earth
habitable for all of us. Without the upper atmosphere, we would live
on a very cold planet. Green house gases trap heat in a manner similar to the glass panels in a farmer's green house and by converting different kinds of light energy into heat energy. According to some scientists, these gases accumulate in the upper atmosphere of the Earth and cause an excessive rise in surface temperature in different parts of the planet.
What gases are considered Green House Gases?
These are the major green house gases in our atmosphere: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone. All of these gases are naturally occurring and all are also generated by human activity. Water vapor is the most prevalent of the gases and also responsible for trapping the most heat. Methane is the most effective of the gases at trapping heat, but there is not at much methane in the atmosphere as there is water vapor.
Water vapor is emitted from the tailpipe of an automobile that burns fossil fuel. Clouds are comprised of water vapor. Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of respiration in humans in animals and also respiration by plants at night. Methane is created by decomposing vegetable matter and is also emitted by cattle during their digestive process. Humans also burn methane, referred to as Natural Gas. Burning methane produces carbon dioxide and water vapor.
In 2008 scientists from Colorado University began monitoring water vapor in the atmosphere from the top of the world's largest volcano, Mauna Loa, in Hawaii. They have been monitoring carbon dioxide from the top of the volcano for about 50 years. One concern scientists have is the amplifying effect that water vapor has on the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. Although water vapor does not persist in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, it tends to become more prevalent as the temperature of the air increases. David Noone, a climate scientist with CU (Colorado University) posits that a drying of the atmosphere in the sub tropics may allow more heat to escape from the Earth's atmosphere into space and may modulate the global warming effects that some scientists are studying.
What are Anthropogenic Green House Gases?
Anthropogenic implies 'man made' or 'man caused'. Some volume of the green house gases in the atmosphere is produced as a result of activities by humans on Earth. Some scientists believe that Global Warming or Climate Change is caused by green house gasses that would not otherwise be in the atmosphere but for humans burning fossil fuels, generating electricity, farming, and breathing.