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What are greenhouse gases?

There are several types of greenhouse gas.

What are greenhouse gases

These include:

  • Water vapour
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Methane
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Ozone
  • CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons)

These gases occur naturally in the environment, but human activity is increasing their concentrations and scientists are particularly concerned about the impact carbon dioxide is having on the greenhouse effect.

You can also find out what is the greenhouse effect.

The major greenhouse gases as listed by the Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions are:

Greenhouse Gas Chemical Formula Anthropogenic Sources Atmospheric Lifetime1(years) GWP2 (100 Year Time Horizon)
Carbon Dioxide CO2 Fossil-fuel combustion, Land-use conversion, Cement Production ~1001 1
Methane CH4 Fossil fuels, Rice paddies, Waste dumps 121 25
Nitrous Oxide N2O Fertilizer, Industrial processes, Combustion 1141 298
Tropospheric Ozone O3 Fossil fuel combustion, Industrial emissions, Chemical solvents hours-days N.A.
CFC-12 CCL2F2 Liquid coolants, Foams 100 10,900
HCFC-22 CCl2F2 Refrigerants 12 1,810
Sulfur Hexaflouride SF6 Dielectric fluid 3,200 22,800


You can find in-depth guides and informative videos about climate change on the Met Office website. Their Climate Guide pages are a great place to start if you’re interested in learning more about greenhouse gases and their affects on our planet.Please visit their website for references and more information – you can find this table in its original form at

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