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Greenhouse Gas Molecules
http://chemistry.beloit.edu/Warming/pages/molecule4.html

George Lisensky, Beloit College

This resource consists of an interactive table with a comprehensive list of 29 Greenhouse Gases, their molecular structures, a chart showing a time series of their atmospheric concentrations (at several sampling sites), their global warming potential (GWP) and their atmospheric lifetimes. References are given to the data sets that range from the mid-1990s to 2008.

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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
Other materials addressing 2c

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

  • This webpage can best be used as a resource within a unit about greenhouse gases.

About the Science

  • While the basic information about the molecules is important to have in one place, the real value of this resource is the visualization of the atmospheric concentrations of most greenhouse gases over several decades, from several sampling sites. These different charts are presented as individual frames in QuickTime movies, making it easy to move among the different graphs.
  • Comment from expert scientist: Good visualization of greenhouse gas molecules. Good illustration of time series of molecule concentrations in atmosphere, including variability among different locations on Earth.

About the Pedagogy

  • Because of the interactive nature of the molecular structures (using the interactive web browser applet, Jmol) and movie frames of atmospheric concentrations, students should be stimulated to ask a lot of questions with a little prompting.
  • Educators will have to provide background for this resource. Unfortunately, there is no teacher's guide provided.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • While this webpage is a little dated in appearance, all parts are quite functional and useful.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

  • This webpage appears to be part of the Chem Connection project http://chemistry.beloit.edu/modules.html that does not appear to be currently active.
  • Further information about Jmol is available at http://jmol.sourceforge.net/.

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