Does Carbon Dioxide Contribute To Global Warming

Does Carbon Dioxide Contribute To Global Warming – Different atmospheric components differ in their contribution to the greenhouse effect, some through feedbacks and some through forcing. Without carbon dioxide and other non-condensable greenhouse gases, water vapor and clouds would not be able to provide the feedback mechanisms that enhance the greenhouse effect. Credit: NASA GISS

( — Water vapor and clouds are the main contributors to Earth’s greenhouse effect, but a new atmosphere-ocean climate modeling study shows that the planet’s temperature ultimately depends on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Does Carbon Dioxide Contribute To Global Warming

Does Carbon Dioxide Contribute To Global Warming

The study, conducted by Andrew Lacis and colleagues at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, examined the nature of Earth’s greenhouse effect and clarified the role that greenhouse gases and clouds play in absorbing outgoing infrared radiation. In particular, the team identified non-condensable greenhouse gases — such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons — as the primary contributors to the Earth’s greenhouse effect.

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Without non-condensable greenhouse gases, water vapor and clouds would not be able to provide feedback mechanisms that enhance the greenhouse effect. The results of the study will be published on Friday, October 15 in the journal Science.

A companion study led by GISS co-author Gavin Schmidt that has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research shows that carbon dioxide accounts for about 20 percent of the greenhouse effect, water vapor and clouds together account for 75 percent, and smaller gases and aerosols account for the remaining five percent. However, the 25 percent non-condensable greenhouse gas component, which includes carbon dioxide, is a key factor in maintaining the Earth’s greenhouse effect. According to this view, carbon dioxide is responsible for 80 percent of the radiation that maintains the greenhouse effect on Earth.

The climate forcing experiment described in Science was simple in design and concept—all non-condensable greenhouse gases and aerosols are zero, and the global climate model is run forward in time to see what happens to the greenhouse effect.

Without sustained support from non-condensable greenhouse gases, Earth’s greenhouse effect collapsed as water vapor rapidly precipitated from the atmosphere, pushing the model Earth into an ice-bound state — a clear demonstration that water vapor, while contributing 50 percent of total greenhouse warming, acts as a feedback process and as such cannot sustain the Earth’s greenhouse effect by itself.

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“Our climate modeling simulation should be seen as an experiment in atmospheric illustrations, illustrating a cause-and-effect problem that has allowed us to better understand the mechanics of the Earth’s greenhouse effect and has allowed us to demonstrate the direct link that exists between rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and rising global temperatures.” ” Lacis said.

The study links to a geological record in which carbon dioxide levels have fluctuated between approximately 180 parts per million during ice ages and about 280 parts per million during warmer interglacial periods. To put into perspective the global temperature increase of nearly 1 C (1.8 F) over the past century, the global mean temperature difference between ice age extremes and interglacial periods is estimated to be only about 5 C (9 F).

“When carbon dioxide increases, more water vapor is returned to the atmosphere. That’s what helped melt the glaciers that once covered New York City,” said co-author David Rind, of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “Today we are in uncharted territory as carbon dioxide approaches 390 parts per million in what is called a ‘superinterglacial’.”

Does Carbon Dioxide Contribute To Global Warming

“The bottom line is that atmospheric carbon dioxide acts as a thermostat in regulating Earth’s temperature,” Lacis said. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has fully documented the fact that industrial activity is responsible for rapidly increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It is therefore not surprising that global warming can be directly linked to the observed increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and human industrial activity in general. .”

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Greenhouse gases allow sunlight to pass through the atmosphere and warm the planet, but absorb and redirect some of the long-wave radiation (heat) that the planet emits.

Energy flows down from the sun and up from the Earth and its atmosphere. While greenhouse gases intercept radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, they prevent that radiation from escaping into space, causing the surface temperature to rise by about 33 °C (59 °F).

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The greenhouse effect occurs when greenhouse gases in a planet’s atmosphere trap some of the heat radiated from the planet’s surface, raising its temperature. This process occurs because stars emit short-wave radiation that passes through greenhouse gases, but planets emit long-wave radiation that is partially absorbed by greenhouse gases. That difference reduces the rate at which the planet can cool in response to heating by the host star. The addition of greenhouse gases further reduces the rate at which the planet emits radiation into space, raising the average surface temperature.

Compared to Earth’s 20th-century average of about 14 °C (57 °F), or a more accurate average of about 15 °C (59 °F).

In addition to naturally persistent greenhouse gases, the burning of fossil fuels leads to an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere.

Does Carbon Dioxide Contribute To Global Warming

The wavelengths of radiation emitted by the Sun and Earth differ because their surface temperatures are different. The Sun has a surface temperature of 5,500 °C (9,900 °F), so it emits most of its ergy as short-wave radiation in the near-infrared and visible wavelengths (like sunlight). In contrast, the Earth’s surface has a much lower temperature, so it emits long-wave radiation at mid- and far-infrared wavelengths (sometimes called thermal radiation or radiant heat).

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A gas is a greenhouse gas if it absorbs long-wave radiation. Earth’s atmosphere absorbs only 23% of incoming shortwave radiation, but absorbs 90% of longwave radiation emitted by the surface,

The term greenhouse effect comes from the analogy with greenhouses. Both greenhouses and the greenhouse effect work by trapping heat from sunlight, but the way they trap heat is different. Greenhouses retain heat mainly by blocking convection (air movement).

In contrast, the greenhouse effect traps heat by limiting the transfer of radiation through the air and reducing the rate at which heat escapes into space.

The existence of the greenhouse effect, although not named as such, was proposed as early as 1824 by Joseph Fourier.

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The arguments and evidence were further supported by Claude Pouillet in 1827 and 1838. In 1856, Eunice Newton Foote showed that the warming effect of the sun was greater for air with water vapor than for dry air, and the effect was even greater with carbon dioxide. . She concluded that “the atmosphere of that gas would give our country a high temperature…”

John Tyndall was the first to measure the infrared absorption and emission of various gases and vapors. From 1859 onwards, he showed that the effect was due to a very small proportion of the atmosphere, with the principal gases having no effect, and that it was mainly due to water vapour, although small percentages of hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide had a significant effect.

The effect was more fully quantified by Svante Arrhius in 1896, who made the first quantitative prediction of global warming due to a hypothetical doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Does Carbon Dioxide Contribute To Global Warming

The greenhouse effect and its effect on climate are succinctly described in this 1912 Popular Mechanics article, available for general public reading.

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Matter emits thermal radiation in an amount directly proportional to the fourth power of its temperature. Part of the radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases and clouds. Without this absorption, the Earth’s surface would have an average temperature of -18 °C (-0.4 °F). However, because some of the radiation is absorbed, the Earth’s average

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