Green House Effect: Intro, Main Sources, Effects, Prevention and Control

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green house effect

Introduction to Green House Effect-

The greenhouse effect is a natural process that helps to regulate the Earth’s temperature. However, human activity has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to a rise in the Earth’s average temperature.

This is known as climate change, and it is a major global problem. There are a number of things we can do to reduce our impact on the environment and help mitigate climate change.

For example, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, plant trees to absorb carbon dioxide, and work to limit deforestation.

We can also educate others about the importance of taking action on climate change. By working together, we can make a difference and help protect our planet for future generations.

What is Green House Effect?

The hot surface of the sun radiates heat and light energy. Several gases in the atmosphere are transparent to light but absorb infrared radiation.

These allow sunlight to pass through the atmosphere and be absorbed by the earth’s surface. This energy is again radiated as heat energy, which is absorbed by the gases.

As the effect is similar in nature to what happens in a botanical greenhouse (the glass panes allow the light energy to enter inside but diminish the loss of heat), these gases are called ”greenhouse gases” and the resultant warming from their increase is called the “Greenhouse Effect“.

Main Source of Green House Effect-

These types of greenhouse gases are playing a negative part in increasing the havoc of global warming. They are continuously causing an increase in the earth’s temperature.

The most abundant greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse effect are listed and described below-

  1. Water vapours (H2O)
  2. Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  3. Methane (CH4)
  4. Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  5. Fluorinated Gases
  6. Sulphur Hexafluoride(SF6)
  7. Ozone (03)
  8. Black Carbon

1. Water vapours (H2O)-

Water vapour is the gaseous state of water and is invisible. It is, however, the dominant constituent of Earth’s atmosphere, making up about 60% of the air by volume.

The properties of water vapour are very different from those of the liquid state of water. For instance, water vapour is much lighter than air and is highly soluble in other gases.

It is also a good conductor of heat and a very good absorber of infrared radiation. These properties make water vapour a very important player in the global climate system as well as in the greenhouse effect.

2. Carbon dioxide (CO2)-

There are many greenhouse gases which are mainly emitted by human activity. The first and foremost in the list is carbon dioxide.

Excessive burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil is the major factor in producing this gas. Moreover, deforestation i.e. removal of trees for acquiring land also causes large amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Cement manufacturing also contributes carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when calcium carbonate is heated generating lime and carbon dioxide.

It is produced any time something is burned. It is the most common ”Green House Gas(GHG)”, constituting by some measures almost 55% of total long-term GHGs.

Main sources of Carbon dioxide (CO2) Emission-

  • Combustion of fossil fuel to generate electricity.
  • Combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used for transportation.
  • Emission due to many industrial processes
  • Several processes do not involve combustion like the production and consumption of mineral products such as cement.

Efforts to reduce the emission of Carbon dioxide (CO2)-

  • The most effective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is the reduction of fossil fuel consumption.
  • Other mechanisms include energy efficiency, energy conservation, and carbon capture.

Methane (CH4)-

The second culprit gas is methane, commonly known as natural gas.

It is produced as a result of agricultural activities such as livestock digestion, paddy rice farming and the use of manure. Methane is also produced due to improper management of waste.

It is produced in many combustion processes and also by anaerobic decomposition, for example, in flooded rice paddies, pig and cow stomachs, and pig manure ponds.

Methane breaks down in approximately 10 years but is a precursor of ozone, itself an important GHG.

Main sources of Methane (CH4) Emission-

  • Wetlands emit methane from bacteria that decompose organic materials in the absence of oxygen
  • Smaller sources include termites, oceans, sediments, volcanoes and wildfires.

4. Nitrous oxide (N2O)-

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is a by-product of fertilizer production and use, other industrial processes and the combustion of certain materials.

Nitrous oxide lasts a very long time in the atmosphere, but at the 100-year point of comparison to CO₂, its GWP.

Nitrous oxide can be removed from the atmosphere when it is absorbed by certain types of bacteria or destroyed by ultraviolet radiation and chemical reactions.

Main sources of Nitrous oxide (N2O) Emission-

  •  Nitrous oxides are generated mainly by fertilizers.

5. Fluorinated Gases

These were created as replacements for ozone-depleting refrigerants, but have proved to be both extremely long-lasting and extremely warming GHGs.

They have no natural sources but are entirely man-made. 

Types of Fluorinated Gases-

There are three types of fluorinated gases-

  1. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC)
  2. Perfluorocarbons (PFC)
  3. Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)
A. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC)-

These are used as refrigerants, aerosol propellants, solvents, and fire retardants. These chemicals were developed as a replacement for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) because they do not deplete the stratospheric ozone layer.

B. Perfluorocarbons (PFC)-

These are the compounds produced as a byproduct of various industrial processes associated with aluminium production and the manufacturing of semiconductors, like HFCS, PFCs also have a long atmospheric lifetime and high GWPS (global warming potential).

C. Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)-

These are used in magnesium processing and semiconductor manufacturing as well as a tracer gas for leak detection. HFC-23 is produced as a by-product of HCFC-22 production.

6. Sulphur Hexafluoride(SF6)-

It is used for specialized medical procedures, but primarily in what is called dielectric materials, especially dielectric liquids. These are used as insulators in high-voltage applications such as transformers and grid-switching gear.

SF6 will last thousands of years in the upper atmosphere.

On a per-molecule basis, sulphur hexafluoride is one of the most potent greenhouse gases known. Its potency stems from its intense absorption.

SF6 is a useful industrial chemical used as an insulating gas in electrical switching equipment. As a result of anthropogenic emissions, the current level of SF6 in the atmosphere is approximately 400 times that of the natural background and increasing at a rate of approximately 0.2 ppt yr.

7. Ozone (03)-

In contrast to all other greenhouse gases, ozone is not emitted into the atmosphere.

 Ozone is generated in situ in the atmosphere from two processes:

  1. Photolysis of molecular oxygen (O2) which give oxygen atoms (O) which then add to molecular oxygen to give ozone (03) and
  2. Oxidation of organic compounds (from natural and man-made sources) in the presence of nitrogen oxides (NOx).

The first process only occurs in the upper atmosphere where there is sufficient short-wavelength sunlight to photo-dissociate molecular oxygen and this process gives rise to the stratospheric ozone layer at altitudes of 20-50 km.

The second process occurs throughout the atmosphere but, because of the much greater availability of organic compounds and NOx near the Earth’s surface, is much more important in the lower atmosphere (troposphere).

The emission of large amounts of organic compounds and NOx in urban areas leads to the formation of substantial amounts of ozone in, and downwind of large metropolitan centers around the world.

In discussions of the climatic impact of human perturbations on atmospheric ozone levels, a clear distinction is made between ozone in the upper atmosphere (stratospheric ozone), which has decreased as a result of human activities, and ozone in the lower atmosphere (tropospheric ozone) which has increased as a result of human activities.

Finally, in contrast to all other greenhouse gases considered here, the atmospheric lifetime of ozone is short (of the order of days or weeks, depending on local conditions) and hence its concentration responds quickly to changes in atmospheric conditions: International agreements are now in place which should eliminate the emission of CFCs over the next few decades.

It is expected that the stratospheric ozone layer will recover during the twenty-first century and that the magnitude of the negative radiative forcing associated with stratospheric ozone loss will decrease with time.

8. Black Carbon-

It is a solid particle or aerosol, that contributes to the warming of the atmosphere. It is commonly known as “soot”. It is a form of particulate air pollutant produced from incomplete combustion.

It consists of pure carbon in several linked forms. It absorbs heat by reducing the ability to reflect sunlight when deposited on snow and ice.

It is the strongest absorber of heat and sunlight also it darkens snow caps and glaciers through deposition and leads to the melting of ice and snow. It stays in the atmosphere for several days or weeks.

Effect of Green House Effect-

The impact of Green Flows Effect of the Environment are-

  1. Global Warming
  2. Weather
  3. Rise Sea Level
  4. Impact on Human Life
  5. Effects on Aquatic Systems
  6. Effects on Hydrological Cycle

1. Global Warming-

Increased greenhouse gas concentration causes a reduction in outgoing infrared radiation, thus Earth’s balance between incoming and outgoing radiation disturbs.

This “climatic change” will include “global warming” of Earth’s surface and the lower atmosphere as warming up the simplest way for climate to rid of extra energy.

However, a small rise temperatures will induce many other changes, for example, cloud cover and wind patterns.

Some of these changes may act to enhance the warming, while others counteract Using complex climate models, the “Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change” their third assessment report has forecast that global mean surface temperature will rise by 1.4°C to 5.8°C by the end of 2100.

This projection takes into effects of aerosols which tend cool the climate well the delaying effects the oceans which have large thermal capacity.

However, there are many uncertainties associated with this projection such as future emission rates of greenhouse gases, climate feedback, and the size the ocean delay.

2. Weather-

The effects will vary in different parts of the world, some places will become drier and others will become wetter.

Although most areas will be warmer, some areas will become cooler. There may be many storms, floods and droughts, but we do not know which areas of the world will be affected

All over the world, these weather changes will affect the kinds of crops that can be grown. Plants, animals, and even people may find it difficult to survive in different conditions.

3. Rise in Sea Level-

If global warming takes place, the sea level will rise due to two different processes. Firstly, warmer temperatures cause sea level rise due to the thermal expansion of seawater.

Secondly, water from melting glaciers and the ice sheets also add water the ocean. It predicted that the Earth’s average sea level will rise 0.09 to 0.88m between 1990 and 2100.

4. Impact on Human Life-

There are two ways that will impact human life due to greenhouse effect-

  1. Economical Impact
  2. Agricultural Impact

A. Economical Impact-

Over half of the human population lives within 100 kilometers of the sea. Most of this population lives in urban areas that serve as seaports.

A measurable rise in sea level will have a severe economic impact on low-lying coastal areas and islands, for example, increasing the beach erosion rates along coastlines, and rising sea levels displacing fresh groundwater for substantial distance inland.

B. Agricultural Impact-

 Experiments have shown that with higher concentrations of CO₂, plants can grow bigger and faster.

However, the effect of global warming may affect the atmospheric general circulation and thus altering the global precipitation pattern as well as changing the soil moisture contents over various continents.

Since it is unclear how global warming will affect climate on a regional or local scale, the probable effects on the biosphere remains uncertain.

5. Effect on Aquatic System-

The loss of coastal wetlands results in the reduction of fish populations, especially shellfish.

Increased salinity in estuaries could reduce the abundance of freshwater species but could increase the presence of marine species.

However, the full impact on marine species is ambiguous.

6. Effect on Hydrological cycle-

Global precipitation is likely to increase. However, it is not known how regional rainfall patterns will change.

Some regions may have more rainfall, while others may have less. Furthermore, higher temperatures would probably increase evaporation.

These changes would probably create new stresses for many water management systems.

Prevention and Control For Green House Effect-

There are several steps that can be taken to minimize the effect of greenhouse effect on our environment and as well as living creatures including humans and they are-

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  2. Replace Light Bulbs
  3. Use Less Heat and Air Conditioning
  4. Drive Less and Smart
  5. Buy Energy-Efficient Products
  6. Use the “Off” Switch
  7. Plant a Tree
  8. Encourage Others to Conserve
  9. Limit Waste
  10. Using Renewable Energy
  11. The reduction potential of different sectors

1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle-

Buying products with minimal packaging will help to reduce waste. Recycling household waste and reusing them will contribute to minimizing greenhouse effect.

2. Replace Light Bulbs-

Wherever practical, replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL). CFLs last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, use two-thirds less energy, and give off 70 percent less heat.

3. Use Less Heat and Air Conditioning-

Adding insulation to your walls and installing weather stripping or caulking around doors and windows can lower your heating costs more than 25 percent, by reducing the amount of energy you need to heat and cool your home.

Turn down the heat while you’re sleeping at night or away during the day, and keep temperatures moderate at all times.

Installing a programmable thermostat is also a good idea.

4. Drive Less and Smart-

Less driving means fewer emissions

Besides saving gasoline, walking and cycling are great forms of exercise. When you do drive, make sure your car is running efficiently.

For example, keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent.

Every gallon of gas you save keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

5. Buy Energy-Efficient Products-

Home appliances now come in a range of energy-efficient models, and compact fluorescent bulbs are designed to provide more natural-looking light while using far less energy than standard light bulbs.

6. Use the “Off” Switch-

Save electricity and reduce global warming by turning off lights when you leave a room, and using only as much light as you need.

And remember to turn off your television, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them.

It’s also a good idea to turn off the water when you’re not using While brushing your teeth, shampooing the dog, or washing your car, turn off the water until you actually need it for rinsing.

7. Planting Trees-

Trees absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. A single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.

8. Encourage Others to Conserve-

Share information about recycling and energy conservation with your friends, neighbours, and co-workers, and take opportunities to encourage public officials to establish programs and policies that are good for the environment.

9. Limit Waste-

Wasteful and needless consumption contributes greatly to the release of greenhouse gases.

Every physical product that you use magazines, boxes, food products, and toys requires energy to produce and for disposal.

Buying fewer needless products will limit the demand for those products and put downward pressure on the energy use and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions associated with their production.

10. Using Renewable Energy-

In the last few decades, renewable were in the main focus of every national and state government.

The world’s brightest minds search for ways to generate electricity through solar and wind power. Such natural production of energy has major benefits for our environment.

As we go forward traditional sources such as coal and oil will slowly become obsolete which is another reason why we should turn to renewable energy.

11. Reduction potential of different sectors-

No one sector or technology can address the entire mitigation challenge.

All sectors including buildings, industry, energy production, agriculture, transport, forestry, and waste management could contribute to the overall mitigation efforts, for instance through greater energy efficiency.

Many technologies and processes which emit less greenhouse gases are already commercially available or will be in the coming decades.


Wrapping Up-

This was all about Green House Effect. I think I’ve covered everything there is to know about this. If I missed something, please comment and I’ll do my best to add it.

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