how greenhouse gases contribute to global warming

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  • What gases are in the atmosphere that act as a greenhouse?

  • Certain gases in the atmosphere resemble glass in a greenhouse, allowing sunlight to pass into the ‘greenhouse,’ but blocking Earth’s heat from escaping into space. The gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxides, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

  • Are some gases more effective than others at making the planet warmer?

  • Some gases are more effective than others at making the planet warmer and thickening the Earth’s blanket. For each greenhouse gas, a Global Warming Potential (GWP) has been calculated to reflect how long it remains in the atmosphere, on average, and how strongly it absorbs energy.

  • What are GHGs and how do they affect the climate?

  • While most GHGs are naturally occurring, human activities have also been leading to a problematic increase in the amount of GHG emitted and their concentration in the atmosphere. This increased concentration, in turn, can lead to adverse effects on climate.

  • Which gases trap heat in the atmosphere?

  • Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. This section provides information on emissions and removals of the main greenhouse gases to and from the atmosphere. For more information on the other climate forcers, such as black carbon, please visit the Climate Change Indicators: Climate Forcing page.

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