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Firas A.

IB-1 A

1. Defenition of the greenhouse effect

The greenhouse effect is the rise in temperature that the Earth experiences because certain
gases in the atmosphere (water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, for
example) trap energy from the sun. Without these gases, heat would escape back into space
and Earth’s average temperature would be about 60ºF colder. Because of how they warm our
world, these gases are referred to as greenhouse gases.

2. Golbal warming potential

Global warming potential (GWP) is a measure of how much a given mass of greenhouse gas
is estimated to contribute to global warming. It is a relative scale which compares the gas in
question to that of the same mass of carbon dioxide (whose GWP is by definition 1). A GWP
is calculated over a specific time interval and the value of this must be stated whenever a
GWP is quoted or else the value is meaningless.

3. Storm frequency

While most climatologists do not believe that global warming will increase the frequence of
hurricanes, they are in accord that with more heat stored in the oceans, the intensity of these
storms will increase. Melting ice in the Arctic may destablize the climate of the Arctic in one
way, but overall ocean temperatures will increase with global warming.

• Heat stored in oceans


• Melting ice in the Arctic
• Overall ocean tempratures wil inacrease (especially the surface, causing storms)

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Firas A. IB-1 A

4. Methane, Carbon dioxide and CFCs

CO2 is not the only man made gas of concern. Others include methane (industry, garbage,
cattle raising etc), nitrous oxides (a byproduct of combustion - comes primarily from
automobiles), and of course CFC's. Shown in the table below are the concentrations of
anthropogenic greenhouse gases in 1800 before the industrial revolution compared to the
values measured in 1999. Also shown is the rate of change and the average lifetime of one of
these gases in the atmosphere. So while CFC's have a small concetration they are relatively
inert in the atmosphere, lasting 50 to more than 100 years.

Gas 1800 1999 Change/year Atms. Lifetime


Water Vapour 3000 ppm 3000 ppm unknown ppm unknown
Carbon Dioxide 280 ppmv 353 ppmv 1.8 ppm (.5%) 40 years
Methane 0.8 ppmv 1.75 ppmv 0.015 ppm (.9%) 11 years
Nitrous Oxide 288 ppbv 310 ppbv 0.8 ppb (.25%) 130 years
CFC-11 0 280 pptv 9.5 ppt (4%) 55 years
CFC-12 0 484 pptv 17 ppt (4%) 116 years

Table: http://www.environmentalsciences.homestead.com/greenhousegases.html