Other Greenhouse Gases

  • William W. Hay


Methane, CH4 is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 but its concentration is much less. It is produced by anaerobic bacteria. These occur in bogs and rice paddies, but also in the intestines of ruminant animals (cattle) and termites. Before oxygen appeared in Earth’s atmosphere methane may have been the most important greenhouse gas. The dominant sites of production of methane are low-latitude wetlands, but with warming of the Earth, increasing amounts of methane are being released from Arctic bogs. Methane can combine with water to form an ice, termed a clathrate. These ices form under the pressure of a few hundred meters of seawater at temperatures well above the freezing point of the water itself. Clathrates cement sediment grains together, acting in some areas to stabilize continental slopes. Warming of the ocean may decompose clathrates releasing methane into the seawater or atmosphere and resulting in tsunami-producing slope failure on the continental margins. Nitrous Oxide, N2O, is another powerful greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere from decaying vegetation. Since the middle of the last century, it has been artificially produced for munitions and then fertilizer but through overuse it has become an anthropogenic pollutant. It is becoming the most effective destroyer of ozone in the twenty-first century.


Seismic Profile Bottom Simulate Reflector Early Atmosphere East African Rift Atmospheric Methane Concentration 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Colorado at BoulderEstes ParkUSA

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