San Jose State University Global Warming Potential & Nitrous Oxide Paper


For each of them, please describe the following information:1. Name and chemical formula of the greenhouse gases 2. Lifetime range 3. What is the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of it? (If it doesn’t have a GWP value, please explain why.)4. Sources (where do these greenhouse gases get emitted)? 5. How are they related to our daily life? For example, what activities in our everyday life are related to the emission of each type of greenhouse gas? Please give some examples.

Class Activity. Professor Minghui Diao
Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal,
natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and
other agricultural practices and by the decay of organic waste in
municipal solid waste landfills.
Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of
fossil fuels and solid waste.
▪ In 2013, nitrous oxide (N2O) accounted for about 5% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from
human activities.
▪ Agriculture. Nitrous oxide is emitted when people add nitrogen to the soil through the use of
synthetic fertilizers.
▪ Transportation. Nitrous oxide is emitted when transportation fuels are burned.
▪ Industry. Nitrous oxide is generated as a byproduct
during the production of nitric acid, which is used
to make synthetic commercial fertilizer, and in
the production of adipic acid, which is used to
make fibers, like nylon, and other synthetic
Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels
(coal, natural gas and oil), solid waste, trees and wood products, and
also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of
▪ Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere (or
“sequestered”) when it is absorbed by plants as part of the
biological carbon cycle.
▪ Lifetime: ~200 years (could vary between 100-300 years)
Fluorinated gases : Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons, sulfur
hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse
gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes.
▪ Fluorinated gases are sometimes used as substitutes for
stratospheric ozone-depleting substances (e.g., CFCs).
▪ These gases are typically emitted in smaller quantities, but because
they are potent greenhouse gases, they are sometimes referred to
as High Global Warming Potential gases (“High GWP gases”).
Low level ozone (or tropospheric ozone) is an atmospheric pollutant. It is not emitted directly by car
engines or by industrial operations, but formed by the reaction of sunlight on air containing
hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides that react to form ozone directly at the source of the pollution or
many kilometers down wind.
▪ The atmospheric lifetime of tropospheric ozone is about 22 days; its main removal mechanisms
are being deposited to the ground.
▪ The short lifetime of ozone (hours-days) precludes a meaningful calculation of global warming
potential on the time horizons (20, 100, and 500 years) listed in IPCC documents

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