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Environmental sciences science fair project:
Effect of carbon dioxide on temperature change in the atmosphere.

Science Fair Project Information
Title: The effect of carbon dioxide on temperature change in the atmosphere.
Subject: Environmental Sciences
Grade level: Middle School - Grades 7-9
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Medium
1st Place, 7th Physical Science, PCA Science Fair
1st Place, 7th Physical Science, ACSI Reg. Science Fair
3rd Place, Earth & Space Science, Lehigh Valley Sci. Fair
Affiliation: Phillipsburg Christian Academy (PCA)
Year: 2002
Description: A thermometer and one cup of carbon dioxide are placed in a sealed vacuum bell jar. After the carbon dioxide sublimates, the vacuum bell jar is heated with a reflector lamp. Temperature is recorded over time. This experiment is repeated in the presense of air and the results are compared.
Link: https://web.archive.org/web/20090903182123/http://www.fellowshipch.org/pcasftim02.html
Short Background

Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases are gases in an atmosphere that absorb and emit radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. Common greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons.

Greenhouse gases, mainly water vapor, are essential to helping determine the temperature of the Earth; without them this planet would likely be so cold as to be uninhabitable. Although many factors such as the sun and the water cycle are responsible for the Earth's weather and energy balance, if all else was held equal and stable, the planet's average temperature should be considerably lower without greenhouse gases.

Human activities have an impact upon the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has other effects upon the system, with their own possible repercussions. The 2007 assessment report compiled by the IPCC observed that "changes in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, land cover and solar radiation alter the energy balance of the climate system", and concluded that "increases in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations is very likely to have caused most of the increases in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century".

When these gases are ranked by their contribution to the greenhouse effect, the most important are:

  • water vapor, which contributes 3672%
  • carbon dioxide, which contributes 926%
  • methane, which contributes 49%
  • ozone, which contributes 37%

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

For more information (background, pictures, experiments and references): Greenhouse Gas

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