Increase Of Greenhouse Gases In The Atmosphere

Increase Of Greenhouse Gases In The Atmosphere – By increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we are increasing the planet’s natural greenhouse effect and turning up the dial on global warming.

The greenhouse effect is a good thing. It warms the planet to a temperature that keeps life on earth, well, alive. Without it, the world would be more like Mars: a frozen, uninhabitable place. The problem is, the violent burning of fossil fuels for energy artificially adds to the natural greenhouse effect. The result? An increase in global warming is changing the planet’s climate system. Here’s a look at what the greenhouse effect is, what causes it, and how we can moderate its contributions to our changing climate.

Increase Of Greenhouse Gases In The Atmosphere

Increase Of Greenhouse Gases In The Atmosphere

The greenhouse effect is the natural warming of the earth that occurs when gases in the atmosphere trap heat from the sun that would otherwise escape into space. The process was identified by scientists in the 1800s.

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Sunlight, with the natural greenhouse effect process, makes the earth habitable. Although around 30 per cent of the sun’s energy – the light and heat from the sun – that reaches our world is reflected back into space, the rest is either absorbed by the atmosphere or the earth’s surface. This process, which is happening constantly around the world, is warming the planet. This heat is then radiated back in the form of invisible infrared radiation. While some of this infrared light continues into space, the vast majority is absorbed by atmospheric gases, known as greenhouse gases, causing further warming.

But higher concentrations of greenhouse gases, and carbon dioxide (CO2) in particular, cause additional heat to be trapped and average global temperatures to rise. For most of the last 800,000 years – much longer than human civilization has existed – the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere was roughly between 200 and 280 parts per million. (In other words, there were 200 to 280 molecules of the gases per million air molecules.) But in the last century, that concentration has jumped. In 2013, driven mainly by fossil fuel burning and deforestation, CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million – a concentration not seen on the planet for millions of years. As of 2023, it has reached more than 420 parts per million, which is 50 percent higher than pre-industrial levels.

The earth’s greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet. The main gases responsible for the greenhouse effect include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour. In addition to these natural compounds, synthetic fluorine gases also act as greenhouse gases. Different greenhouse gases have different chemical properties and are removed from the atmosphere, over time, by various processes. Carbon dioxide, for example, is absorbed by “carbon sinks” such as forests, soil, and the ocean. Fluorine gases are only destroyed by sunlight in the uppermost atmosphere.

Radiative forcing (RF) is another way to measure greenhouse gases (and other climate drivers, such as solar luminosity and large volcanic eruptions). Also known as climate forcing, RF indicates the difference between the amount of solar energy absorbed by the earth and the amount released into space as a result of any climate driver. A climate driver with a positive RF value indicates that it has a warming effect on the planet; a negative value represents cooling.

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The release of greenhouse gases associated with human activities and climate change is referred to as greenhouse gas emissions, or climate pollution. And since the start of the Industrial Revolution and the advent of coal-powered steam engines, human activities have replaced the volume of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. It is estimated that between 1750 and 2019, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased by 47 percent, methane by 156 percent, and nitrous oxide by 23 percent. In the late 1920s, we started adding man-made fluorinated gases such as chlorofluorocarbons to the mix.

In recent decades, we have only accelerated the pace. Of all human-driven carbon dioxide emissions, around half have been produced in the last 30 years alone. And while global greenhouse gas emissions have sometimes leveled off or fallen year-on-year (most recently at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the pause in global travel and manufacturing reduced carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 6 percent), they speed up once. again.

Accounting for nearly 80 percent of human-caused global emissions, carbon dioxide sticks around for a long time. Once released into the atmosphere, 40 percent remains after 100 years, 20 percent after 1,000 years, and 10 percent as long as 10,000 years later. (The lifetime of carbon dioxide cannot be represented with a single value because the gas is not destroyed over time, but instead moves between different parts of the ocean, atmosphere and land. Some carbon dioxide is quickly absorbed, but some will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years.)

Increase Of Greenhouse Gases In The Atmosphere

Methane (CH4) remains in the atmosphere for around 12 years, which is less time than carbon dioxide, but it is much more powerful in terms of the greenhouse effect. In fact, pound for pound, its global warming effect is nearly 30 times greater than the effect of carbon dioxide over a 100 year period. In the United States, methane accounted for more than 12 percent of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. Although methane can come from natural sources such as wetlands, more than half of all global methane emissions are coming from human activities such as natural gas production and livestock. based agriculture.

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Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas: It has a GWP that is about 270 times greater than carbon dioxide on a 100-year time scale, and it stays in the atmosphere, on average, for just over a century. It accounts for about 6 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, from sources such as fertilizers used in agriculture.

Released from a variety of manufacturing and industrial processes, fluorine gases are man-made. There are four main categories: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).

Although fluorine gases are emitted in smaller amounts than other greenhouse gases (they account for 3 percent of US emissions), they trap much more heat. Indeed, the GWP for these gases can be in the thousands to tens of thousands, and they have a long atmospheric lifetime, in some cases lasting tens of thousands of years.

HFCs are used to replace ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), usually in air conditioners and refrigerators, but some are being phased out due to their high GWP. Replacing these HFCs and disposing of them properly is considered one of the most important climate actions the world can take.

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The most abundant greenhouse gas overall, water vapor differs from other greenhouse gases in that changes in its atmospheric concentrations are linked not directly to human activities, but rather to the warming that

Of the other greenhouse gases we emit. Warmer air holds more water. And since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, more water absorbs more heat, causing even more warming and continuing a positive feedback loop. (It is worth noting, however, that the net effect of this feedback loop is still uncertain, as increased water vapor also increases cloud cover which reflects the sun’s energy away from the earth but n keep heat in at night.)

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and transport, as well as land use patterns and agriculture, and industrial processes drive almost all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, or anthropogenic.

Increase Of Greenhouse Gases In The Atmosphere

Burning coal, oil and gas to produce electricity and heat accounts for a quarter of human-driven global emissions, making it the single largest source. In the United States, it is the second largest (behind transportation), responsible for approximately 28 percent of US emissions in 2021, with carbon dioxide as the main gas released, along with amounts small amounts of methane and nitrous oxide.

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Around another quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture and other land uses, such as deforestation. In the United States, agricultural activities — mainly raising livestock and crops for food — accounted for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. Of those, the vast majority was methane (which is produced by decomposing leaves and as beef and dairy cows. belch gas and passing) and nitrous oxide (often released by the use of heavy nitrogen fertilizers).

Trees, plants and soil absorb carbon dioxide from the air. The plants and trees do it through photosynthesis (a process where they turn carbon dioxide into the sugars that plants need to grow); the soil is home to microbes to which carbon is bound. So non-agricultural land use activities such as deforestation, reforestation (replanting existing wooded areas), and afforestation (creating new wooded areas) can either increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere (as in the case of deforestation) or reduce it by absorbing, removing more of carbon dioxide from the air than is emitted. When trees or plants are cut down, they no longer absorb carbon dioxide, and when they are burned as biomass or decompose, they release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere . In the United States, land use activities currently represent a net carbon sink, absorbing more carbon dioxide from the air than they emit.

About a fifth of global human-driven emissions come from the industrial sector,

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