Those atmospheric components that absorb strongly in the infrared region of the spectrum. Infrared radiation is reflected and emitted by the earth's surface as heat and causes a fairly large warming effect when trapped by these gases in the atmosphere. In order of abundance and importance as greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrous oxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Absorption by water vapor, the most common greenhouse gas, explains why many humid or cloudy days feel much hotter than dry, clear days of the same air temperature. Because of these gases, only about 5% of the radiation escapes from the atmosphere while more than 90% is radiated back to the surface of the earth.

Source: Atmospheric Chemistry Glossary











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