What are greenhouse gasses?

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities (~80%), followed by methane (CH4, ~10%).

What factors impact greenhouse gases in our atmosphere?

Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), solid waste, trees and other biological materials, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement). Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere (or “sequestered”) when it is absorbed by plants as part of the biological carbon cycle. Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices, land use and by the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills. (Source: EPA)

Click here to learn more about the long-term trends of greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere at the global scale.

Long-term measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane concentrations are made at many trace-gas monitoring stations across the globe. Explore greenhouse gas dynamics measured at Snowbird and the University of Utah by clicking on their station locations on the map.