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Gallery of Greenhouse Gas Molecules
http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Gallery_of_Greenhouse_Gas_Molecules

Ben Mills, Global Warming Art

This static visualization from Global Warming Art depicts the chemical characteristics of eight greenhouse gas molecules - carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), water (H2O), ozone (O3), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC-12), and trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11).

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

The amount of solar energy absorbed or radiated by Earth is modulated by the atmosphere and depends on its composition. Greenhouse gases—such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane—occur naturally in small amounts and absorb and release heat energy more efficiently than abundant atmospheric gases like nitrogen and oxygen. Small increases in carbon dioxide concentration have a large effect on the climate system.
About Teaching Principle 2
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mate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system
About Teaching Principle C
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor, are transparent to much of the incoming sunlight but not to the infrared light from the warmed surface of the earth. When greenhouse gases increase, more thermal energy is trapped in the atmosphere, and the temperature of the earth increases the light energy radiated into space until it again equals the light energy absorbed from the sun.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • If using in high school, go over units and model elements.
  • Very clear, distinct graphic.
  • Most appropriate for chemistry course where students are familiar with units of measure and significance of molecular structure.

About the Science

  • Collection includes information about greenhouse gas molecules shapes, bond lengths and angles, and describes details of their role in global warming on linked web pages.
  • While water vapor does trap outgoing infrared heat from Earth after it has been warmed by the sun, it is short-lived compared with these other gases, some of which remain in the atmosphere for centuries.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It gives nice pictures of the most important greenhouse gas molecules. A somewhat more quantitative description should be given, e.g. how much of these gases is emitted annually. In order to link molecular structure to greenhouse gas efficiency, bond strength and spectroscopic information has to be provided.

About the Pedagogy

  • The images can be used to explore the chemistry and physics of why certain molecules absorb and re-radiate infrared (IR) energy.
  • Informational rather than didactic.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Puts basic chemical details of the six primary heat trapping gases in a single place.

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