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The Warmer Trace Gases

  nnnnnnnnnnnnnnooonnnnnnnnoooooooaoooooooonnnnnnnnooooonnnnnnoooonnnnnnnn nnnnooooonnnnnnnnnnnnooooonnnnnoonnnnnnnooooonnnnnooonnannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooonnnnnnnnnnnooonnnnnnnnannnnnnnoooonn nnnnnnnnnnnnannnnnnnnnnooooonnnnnnnnnooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnoooo nnnnnannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnoooonnnnnnnnnnnnooonnnnnnnoooonannnnnntnnn nooooonnnnnnnnnnnnooooonnnnnnooonnnnnnnnannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnnoooonnnnnnnnnnnnoooonnnnnnnnooonnnnnnnooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnannnnnnoooonnnnnnnooonnn nnnnnnoonnnnnnnooonnnnnooonnnnnnnnnnooonnnnnnnnnnnnnooonnnnnnnnooonnnnn nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnannnnoooonnnnnnnnnnnnnoooonn nnnooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnoooo nnnnnnnnnnnnnnooonnnnnnnnnnnnoooonnnnnnnnnoooonnnnoooonnnnnnooooonnnnnn oooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnooooonnnnnnnnnnnnn

 Air (parts per 1000)     n = nitrogen(781) o = oxygen (209) a = argon(9)  t = trace gases(1)
Note: Not all the Trace Gases are Warmer Gases! 


The definition of the word trace is “existing in barely detectable quantities”. Understanding this concept involves the ability to visualise minute proportions.

Trace gases constitute 0.1% of the atmosphere in total.

Some, not all, Trace Gases have a large capacity to retain thermal energy.
In the absence of these gases, the Warmer Trace Gases, Earth’ surface would be 33
°C cooler. *

The gases constituting 99.9% of atmosphere (argon, nitrogen and oxygen) retain little thermal energy.  

Experiences with leverage are helpful to developing a full appreciation of the implications of these properties of air.  

Human activities impact on the gas/thermal balances of the atmosphere.  


The presence and movement of the warmed gases moderates temperature extremes around our planet. See Air Convection. The moon effectively has no atmosphere and is +100°C in the sun and -150°C out of it.


*The role of carbon dioxide is illustrated in the Goldilocks Principle –Venus has too much, Mars too little and Earth just the right amount to sustain life.  


  This page is part of a programme  Communicating and Teaching the scientific principles underlying Climate Change issues.

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Warmer Trace Gases         All other gases      The thermal balance: A small change to the quantity of Warmer Trace Gases make a relatively big impact on the global climate.

         460°C             15°C          -60°C


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Web lesson  The Goldilocks Principle: a model of atmospheric gases
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