Greenhouse gases and its types

Greenhouse gases are the gases in the atmosphere of the planet which absorbs or emits thermal infrared radiation which is thrown back by the earth to the planet to outer space. These greenhouse gases are very essential for survival of life on the planet as it keeps the earth warm.

GHG absorbs the infrared radiation which keep the temperature of the earth good for life to survive. Due to greenhouse gases the current average temperature is 15oC without greenhouse gases the average temperature would be -18oC which makes hard for life to survive. But due to higher amount of emission GHG are warming the planet more than needed which is termed as global warming.

Most of us know carbon dioxide ( CO2) as a greenhouse gas but it’s not the only one, there are many greenhouse gases as:

Types of greenhouse gases:

Water vapor:

Water vapor is basically a gaseous form of water in the atmosphere. Actually, It is the most abundant greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It is an effective greenhouse gas as absorb long wave radiation and radiates it back to the surface, thus contributing to warming.

Vapors slightly contribute to warming of the planet more than needed, as water vapors only stay for a few days in the atmosphere. But, more rise in the temperature of the planet will lead to rise in amount of water vapour release in the atmosphere.

Carbon Dioxide:

The carbon dioxide is most well known greenhouse gas. By volume the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is 0.04%. The emission of CO2 takes place through animal, plant, bacteria and other natural sources. CO2 also emits through fossil fuel which started increasing in much higher amount from industrial period which contribute to global warming and further climate change.

As a greenhouse gas Co2 also have the ability to trap the radiation. But unlike water vapor, the carbon dioxide remains for a long time in the atmosphere trap heat for longer timer that other gases. It is also the biggest reason the CO2 is most blamed greenhouse gas for climate change.


Methane is also known as a greenhouse gas and it is one of the most quickly increasing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Since 1750, methane concentration in the atmosphere has increased 150 %. Methane doesn’t stay in nature as long as carbon dioxide but in less time also it can absorb a lot of heat. Methane is 84 times more potent than CO2 and about 25% of man made emissions we are facing is the cause of methane emission.

Nitrous oxide:

Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas comes from the agriculture, fuel combustion and other sources. Nitrous oxide stays in the atmosphere on an average up to 114 years. The nitrous oxide is known to be even worse than carbon dioxide as the impact of 1 pound of N2O on warming the atmosphere is almost 300 times that of 1 pound of carbon dioxide.

But not just warming, nitrous oxide also known as the substance which depletes the ozone layer. Thus, nitrous oxide is warming the planet and depleting the ozone layer at the same time.


Ozone is not typically a greenhouse gas but it is having a greenhouse characteristics to keep earth warm. But it can also be seen as a pollutant in nature. Ozone layer is formed in stratosphere made of ozone which basically prevents earth from UV rays.


Chlorofluorocarbons, commonly known as CFCs, are a group of man-made compounds containing chlorine, fluorine and carbon. CFC is breakdown due to UV rays and causes ozone depletion but also has greenhouse character in them.

The ability to trapping heat of CFC is very good. Although, the amount of chlorofluorocarbons is very small.

Hydro fluorocarbon:

HFCs are potent greenhouse gases because they absorb infrared radiation and because they have relatively long atmospheric lifetimes.

HFCs are potent greenhouse gases because they absorb infrared radiation and because they have relatively long atmospheric lifetimes. The five most commonly used HFCs are between 150 and 5,000 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. There is also an HFC which is up to 12,500 times more potent than CO2.

If the global use of HFCs continues to grow at the current rate, their contribution to the greenhouse effect will increase up to 10 percent of that of the main greenhouse gas CO2 in 2050.

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