What are Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)?
Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called Greenhouse gases (GHGs).
Energy from the sun is used to sustain life on Earth. About 70% of the sunlight beaming towards the Earth reaches us. The rest is absorbed by the outer atmosphere. Once the energy reaches the Earth it is again reflected back upward in the form of infrared radiation. As it is reflected upwards the GHGs in the atmosphere absorb some of this energy and heat creating the “Greenhouse Effect”. GHGs help keep the planet at a temperature necessary to sustain life. In other words they help regulate our climate.
However, when the percentage of Greenhouse gases increases dramatically in the atmosphere it can interfere with atmospheric balance resulting in rapid warming of the Earth.
The main Greenhouse Gases are:
• Water Vapor
• Carbon Dioxide
• Nitrous Oxide
All GHGs in the atmosphere absorb heat differently. HFCs and PFCs absorb the most heat. While Methane traps 20 times more and Nitrous Oxide absorbs 270 times more energy than Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Dioxide emissions are growing very rapidly and hence are currently the biggest problem.