Comparing greenhouse gases

In order to calculate the contribution of the different gases to the greenhouse effect, three fundamental parameters must be taken into consideration:

  • concentration in the atmosphere;
  • radiative forcing of each gas, i.e. the capacity to trap the energy going from our Planet into  Space;
  • persistence in the atmosphere  of each gas, i.e. the mean time the gas remains in the atmosphere; in fact if a gas remains in the atmosphere for a short period of time it will have a lesser effect than a gas that remains for a long period of time.

Since the greenhouse gases have various capacities of absorbing infrared radiations,  the concept of Global Warming Potential (GWP) has been introduced. Therefore all the gases are compared to carbon dioxide, which has been assigned a potential = 1.

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