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Thread: Importance of greenhouse gases???

  1. #1 Importance of greenhouse gases??? 
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    What makes CO2 and H2O important greenhouse gases in
    comparison with N2 and O2? Thanks for the help regarding this question


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  3. #2  
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    I assume that CO2, H20, and the other Greenhouse Gases just have high Specific Heat Capacities. Therefore, they absorb more heat (in Joules) per kilogram of substance than other fluids do. It follows that they retain this heat for much longer than substances of lower Specific Heat Capacity.


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  4. #3 Re: Importance of greenhouse gases??? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by rct1718
    What makes CO2 and H2O important greenhouse gases in
    comparison with N2 and O2? Thanks for the help regarding this question
    Here's a pretty good explanation:

    ...The "greenhouse effect" is the heating of the Earth due to the presence of greenhouse gases. It is named this way because of a similar effect produced by the glass panes of a greenhouse. Shorter-wavelength solar radiation from the sun passes through Earth's atmosphere, then is absorbed by the surface of the Earth, causing it to warm. Part of the absorbed energy is then reradiated back to the atmosphere as long wave infared radiation. Little of this long wave radiation escapes back into space; the radiation cannot pass through the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases selectively transmit the infared waves, trapping some and allowing some to pass through into space. The greenhouse gases absorb these waves and reemits the waves downward, causing the lower atmosphere to warm...
    http://www.umich.edu/~gs265/society/greenhouse.htm

    In other words: N2 and O2 do not absorb and reemit infrared radiation like greenhouse gasses do. I suspect (but do not know for sure) that it has to do with the shape and size of the molecules.
    Terrapin
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