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What are Atmospheric Gases?

Atmospheric gases are gases located in the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases primarily include oxygen and nitrogen (making up 99% of the air); though greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor and ozone) make up 1% of the air.

While Nitrogen and oxygen are transferred between the atmosphere and the Earth, greenhouse gases take longer to leave and thus tend to build up more quickly. This leads to climate change and global warming due to more of these gases accumulating and blocking trapping the sun’s radiation on the Earth’s surface. In the past, this was caused by volcanic eruptions and the decay of organisms, but as we continue to use fossil fuels, the number of greenhouse gases will continue to build up and cause more radiation to be trapped on Earth.

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Other Sources

David Suzuki Foundation. “Greenhouse Gases.” David Suzuki Foundation. http://davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/science/climate-change-basics/greenhouse-gases/. Accessed July 7, 2017.

National Geographic Society. “Atmosphere.” National Geographic. http://nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/atmosphere/. July 6, 2016.

Pidwirny, M. (2006). "Atmospheric Composition". Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition. http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html. Accessed July 6, 2016.