Gases in the atmosphere that contribute to the “Greenhouse Effect”. This is when solar radiation that is absorbed by the Earth is reradiated at a longer wavelength and trapped in the atmosphere by these gases.
These gases are Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide.
Carbon Dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas mainly due to combustion through the burning of fossil fuels.
Carbon becomes carbon dioxide when it is released as a gas into the atmosphere through a process called respiration.
Respiration involves the breakdown of carbon based molecules into carbon dioxide.
What caused the Increase?
Industrial Revolution (1805-1918)
The burning of fossil fuels was heavily relied on during this time period.
Also the dependence of automobiles in the later half of the 21 st century.
Methane is a gas that is produced naturally and by human means.
Methane has a global warming potential of 23 which means that 1 kilogram of Methane has the same effect as 23 kg of carbon dioxide over a 100 year period.
Sources of Methane (Natural)
Naturally produced in areas where soils are waterlogged and oxygen levels are low or near zero. A group of microorganisms called methanogens produce methane as they respire carbon dioxide.
Cows produce 300-400lbs of methane each year and there are 1 billion cows on Earth!
Sources of Methane (Human Made)
Main human made sources of methane come from losses during the extraction of oil, coal, and gas.
Other sources are waste treatment facilities, rice cultivation and biomass burning.
Positives of Methane
Methane can be used as an energy source.
Many landfills are converting methane to energy since the main byproduct is methane.
Breweries are also using the methane created during the fermentation process and converting it to energy to run their machinery.