Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. The high ozone-depletion rate results from trichlorofluoromethane's tendency to shed chlorine molecules when struck with ultraviolet light. Methane (CH4): Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, Receive news and offers from our other brands? A chemical used in the creation of semiconductors, hexafluoroethane is the Methuselah of greenhouse gases. But because ozone isn't equally distributed around the globe, we have simultaneously too much of it (man-made ozone in the lowest part of the atmosphere traps heat and warms the planet), and too little of it (fluorocarbons deplete ozone in the upper atmosphere responsible for shielding the ice caps from solar radiation). The new kid on the block, MIT scientists identified this chemical as a greenhouse gas on March 11th, 2009. You will receive a verification email shortly. Fire extinguisher in action, courtesy of rockstarassi via Flickr.com. … Chlorine, of course, is also a deadly toxin. Now the next time someone asks you about your carbon footprint, you can ask them about their steam footprint, and see if that patchouli-scented hippie knows the main cause behind the greenhouse effect. There was a problem. Water? For the study, NASA scientists analyzed dozens of compounds and ranked greenhouse gases as global warming agents to create guidelines for minimizing global warming. PopSci.com's guide to the vapors that are making Earth more toasty. CH4 is more potent than CO2 because the radiative forcing produced per molecule is greater. Water?! Despite all the talk about carbon capture, carbon footprints and carbon trading, carbon dioxide only causes nine to 26 percent of the greenhouse effect. ), Wide-eyed prehistoric shark hid its sharpest teeth in nightmare jaws, Crested rats can kill with their poisonous fur, SARS-CoV-2 relative found lurking in frozen bats from Cambodia. Trifluoromethane, also called fluoroform, serves two purposes, finding use in the etching of silicon computer chips and as a fire suppressant. In honor of last weeks' report in the Journal of Geophysical Research, which identified a brand new greenhouse gas, PopSci.com counts down the gases that bring us bikini weather in Antarctica and beachfront property in Montana. Live Science is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. By far the most fast and furious of the greenhouse gases, nitrous finds uses in rocket … “Once we discovered the molecular properties that cause molecules to absorb radiated heat more efficiently, we were able to design strategies that will minimize the global warming contribution of materials,” said study co-author Timothy Lee, the chief of the Space Science and Astrobiology Division at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. Lee and colleagues looked at five classes of fluorinated compounds because they are highly efficient at trapping heat. However, those indulging in huffing and street racing should be aware that laughing gas ranks as the fourth leading caus of the greenhouse effect. Computer chips, courtesy of jpockele via Flickr.com. Primarily used in the electronics industry as an insulator, this inert gas moonlights as a tracer for experiments around the wind dispersal of toxic gases during terrorist attacks. Greenhouse gases containing fluorine molecules are among the worst environmental offenders because they trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere most efficiently, according to a new NASA study. The chemical, which is highly inert, has a lifetime of up to 40 years, and traps 4,800 times more heat per molecule than CO2. The researchers in particular looked at how the number and placement of fluorine atoms within a chemical molecule affected the potency of that chemical as a greenhouse gas. Please refresh the page and try again. The researchers ranked the chemicals by their heat-trapping efficiency, known as a molecule’s radiative efficiency, to determine which chemicals were more harmful. New York, The main component of natural gas and cow farts, methane comes in as the number three worst offending greenhouse gas. Top 10 Surprising Results of Global Warming, U.S. and Europe 'Outsource' Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Top 10 Emerging Environmental Technologies, Roman-era Egyptian child mummy scanned with laser-like precision, Whodunit solved when 'sword' is found embedded in thresher shark, Physicists could do the 'impossible': Create and destroy magnetic fields from afar, Who set up this mysterious metal monolith in Utah desert? A Bonnier Corporation Company. For those who managed to stay awake while listening to Al Gore's relentless monotone, you can skip ahead to number one. In fact, ozone is also a potent greenhouse gas. (It's not aliens. Receive mail from us on behalf of our trusted partners or sponsors? Visit our corporate site. Its annual emissions are comparable to the yearly CO2 emissions produced by approximately 100 M cars (2). This refrigerant has the dubious honor of contributing to warming on two fronts. Fog, haze and clouds are all water vapor, and steam is the other main byproduct of the combustion of fossil fuels. Sunset on an ozone alert day, courtesy of Haunted by Leonard Cohen via Flickr.com. Copyright © 2020 Popular Science. SF6 – the most potent greenhouse gas in the world SF6 is the most potent greenhouse gas in existence - it is 23,500 times worse than CO2 in terms of its global warming effect (1). The study makes specific recommendation about the orientation and number of fluorine molecules within greenhouse gases. All rights reserved. Many products featured on this site were editorially chosen. By far the most fast and furious of the greenhouse gases, nitrous finds uses in rocket fuel, making cars more awesome, and as a recreational drug. Stay up to date on the coronavirus outbreak by signing up to our newsletter today. Worse still, warming causes a positive feedback loop as higher temperatures result in more water vapor, which results in higher temperatures, and so on and so on. The study, detailed in the May 3 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that several chemicals that contained fluorine were stronger greenhouse gases than those containing chlorine or hydrogen, including PFCs, HFCs and chlorofluorcarbons (CFCs), which were implicated in the destruction of the ozone layer.
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