Climate Change: How do we know?

The causes of Climate change

A layer of greenhouse gases – primarily water vapor, and including much smaller amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide

A layer of greenhouse gases – primarily water vapor, and including much smaller amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide

A layer of greenhouse gases – primarily water vapor, and including much smaller amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide The most abundant greenhouse gas, but importantly, it acts as a feedback to the climate. Water vapor increases as the Earth's atmosphere warms, but so does the possibility of clouds and precipitation, making these some of the most important feedback mechanisms to the greenhouse effect.

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The atmosphere of Venus, like Mars, is nearly all carbon dioxide.

The atmosphere of Venus, like Mars, is nearly all carbon dioxide.

A minor but very important component of the atmosphere, carbon dioxide is released through natural processes such as respiration and volcano eruptions and through human activities such as deforestation, land use changes, and burning fossil fuels. Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution began. This is the most important long-lived "forcing" of climate change.

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Because of the low atmospheric pressure, and with little to no methane or water vapor to reinforce the weak greenhouse effect, Mars has a largely frozen surface that shows no evidence of life.

Because of the low atmospheric pressure, and with little to no methane or water vapor to reinforce the weak greenhouse effect, Mars has a largely frozen surface that shows no evidence of life.

A hydrocarbon gas produced both through natural sources and human activities, including the decomposition of wastes in landfills, agriculture, and especially rice cultivation, as well as ruminant digestion and manure management associated with domestic livestock. On a molecule-for-molecule basis, methane is a far more active greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but also one which is much less abundant in the atmosphere.

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Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include

Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include

A powerful greenhouse gas produced by soil cultivation practices, especially the use of commercial and organic fertilizers, fossil fuel combustion, nitric acid production, and biomass burning.

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Too much greenhouse gases

Too much greenhouse gases

Synthetic compounds entirely of industrial origin used in a number of applications, but now largely regulated in production and release to the atmosphere by international agreement for their ability to contribute to destruction of the ozone layer. They are also greenhouse gases.

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