List of Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse Effect

Greenhouse gases are nothing but gases present in the atmosphere that have the ability to absorb infrared radiations. These radiations are emitted from the surface of the Earth, which are trapped by these greenhouse gases. Thus, the trapped radiations cause warming in the lower atmosphere and eventually elevate the Earth’s temperature. This rise in temperature is termed the greenhouse effect.

This rise in temperature and its impact on our weather pattern is under the term climate change.

Also Read: Global Warming

Greenhouse Gases

List of Greenhouse Gases

The main property of greenhouse gases is to absorb radiant energy. The strength of absorption and its atmospheric lifetime will determine the potency of the greenhouse gas. The following list provides some major greenhouse gases –

  • Water Vapour (H2O)
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Ozone (O3)
  • Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
  • Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)
  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)
  • Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)
  • Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)
  • Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
  • Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)
  • Perfluorocarbons (C2F6, CF4)

Usually, the greenhouse gases take a much longer time to degrade. The atmospheric concentrations of long lasting greenhouse gases like methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), nitrous oxide (N2O), and carbon tetrachloride (CCI4 ) continue to increase because of anthropogenic activities.

List of Ozone Depleting Substances

Is Ozone a greenhouse gas? – The ozone is a layer present in the lower part of the Earth’s stratosphere. This ozone layer has a role in absorbing radiation (UV-rays) coming from the sun. If this ozone is found in the troposphere layer, it can become a greenhouse gas leading to the greenhouse effect.

Also, the thinning or depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer can lead to several health defects. Most substances that deplete stratospheric ozone are also greenhouse gases. The ozone layer must be protected from the following ozone-depleting substances (ODS) –

  • Hydrofluorocarbons
  • Chlorofluorocarbons
  • Methyl Chloroform
  • Hydrobromofluorocarbons
  • Methyl bromide
  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • Chlorobromomethane

Thus, avoiding ozone-depleting substances will also have an indirect effect on reducing global warming.

Greenhouse Gases and Sources

Greenhouse Gases


Carbon dioxide

Industries, transportation, deforestation, electricity and coal burning.


Agriculture, livestock, coal mining, oil and natural gas industries, waste and landfills

Nitrous oxide

Fuel combustion, agriculture (fertilisers), chemical industries and wastewater treatment

Fluorinated gases

Industries, refrigerants, distribution as well as transmission of electricity

Frequently Asked Questions

What is global warming?

The gradual rise in the Earth’s temperature due to the trapped radiation is called global warming. This phenomenon is a major threat to the ecosystem and can lead to climate change. The changing weather patterns and temperature due to global warming are referred to as climate change. Sometimes, the terms global warming and climate change are interchangeably used.

What is the difference between the greenhouse effect and global warming?

Usually, the radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface is emitted back into space. The presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to the trapping of these radiations and in turn leads to the greenhouse effect. Thus an increase in greenhouse gases will eventually warm up the Earth leading to a phenomenon called global warming. Also, the natural greenhouse effect is vital in maintaining the Earth’s temperature to sustain life. Without these gases, all of Earth’s trapped heat will pass out into the space and leads to a freezing planet.

What are the other effects of greenhouse gases?

Accumulation of greenhouse gases like sulphur oxides and nitrogen can lead to the formation of smog which is a type of air pollution. The atmospheric greenhouse gases also mix with the rainwater and result in acid rain. This leads to the acidification of most water bodies. Also, most greenhouse gases are also ozone-depleting substances that can lead to the creation of the ozone hole.

Is water vapour a greenhouse gas?

Water vapour is one of the most abundant greenhouse gases present in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is responsible for nearly half of the greenhouse effect. The increased level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to increased warming of water bodies and land. This will eventually increase the amount of water vapour which also has the ability to absorb radiant energy. Thus the Earth’s temperature controls the amount of water vapour.

Also Check: Ozone Layer Depletion

Keep exploring BYJU’S Biology for more exciting topics.

Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published. Required fields are marked *




App Now