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Greenhouse Gases: A Closer Look
Lesson 6 Questions

Test your knowledge about greenhouse gases by working through the following questions. Refer back to the lesson pages and learning tools as needed.

Water Vapour
  1. What are the infrared window regions? Why is water vapour one of the greenhouse gases used to define the infrared window regions?
  2. Challenge: Does water evaporate at room temperature? Explain why or why not by drawing a picture of what is going on at the molecular level.
  3. How can human activity indirectly affect atmospheric water vapour levels? Why can we not affect them directly?
Carbon Dioxide
  1. Challenge: How would you expect a graph of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration measured at the south pole to differ from the graph of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from Mauna Loa? Explain.
  2. What are three demographic or lifestyle factors that affect a nation's carbon dioxide emission levels?
  3. Challenge: Using your knowledge of the carbon cycle write a paragraph explaining why we would not see a rapid decrease in atmospheric carbon dioxide if human related carbon dioxide emissions were to completely cease tomorrow.
  4. How will increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in our atmosphere affect earth's radiation balance?
Methane
  1. What is global warming potential? Why does methane have a high global warming potential?
  2. What is the difference between thermogenic and biogenic methane? Give an example of a source of each.
  3. It is sometimes claimed that hydroelectrity could be the energy of the future because it is a 'zero emission" energy source. Is this true? Why or why not?
  4. Challenge: The depth, temperature, age and size of a hydroelectric reservoir work together to determine its GHG emissions. How would you expect each of the factors listed above to affect the greenhouse gas production of a hydroelectric reservoir?
Nitrous Oxide
  1. What two characteristics of nitrous oxide give it such a large global warming potential?
  2. Challenge: Why are plants unable to take in nitrogen directly from the atmosphere?
  3. What are some of the major sources of nitrous oxide? How has human activity affected these sources?
CFCs and Super Greenhouse Gases
  1. What is a super greenhouse gas?
  2. CFCs were regulated by the Montreal Protocol because of their capacity for causing destruction of the ozone layer. Should we regulate the use of HFCs and PFCs (CFC replacement compounds) because of their ability to act as greenhouse gases? Explain.
  3. Challenge: You have been given the task of designing the ultimate super greenhouse gas. What characteristics will your gas have?
  4. Which greenhouse gas has undergone the greatest increase associated with anthropogenic activity since 1750?