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The Global Warming Potential of a gas is a comparison of its potential to increase atmospheric temperatures relative to an equivalent amount of CO2 gas. This measure is not based on concentrations, but focuses on the atmospheric lifetimes of gases and the region of their IR absorbance (numbers 1 and 3 on the previous page). The Global Warming Potential of specific greenhouse gases will be explored further in Lesson 6.

Your Turn

Question: Work with the IR Windows learning tool to answer the following questions:

  1. When the spectral peaks of two gases overlap, what does this mean?
  2. Use the 'Scaled IR Spectra' option to see absorbance based on current concentrations. Which gases are the most concentrated in the atmosphere?

Congratulations on completing Lesson 3! Knowing the fundamental chemistry of Earth's atmosphere is essential to gaining a better understanding of world-wide climate concerns.