Major Greenhouse Gases Greenhouse Gas Sources Lifespan in Atmosphere Carbon dioxide (CO2) Natural: Respiration, decomposition Anthropogenic: burning fossil fuels, deforestation, cement production Natural: anaerobic decomposition Anthropogenic: leaking natural gas from drilling sites, pipelines and storage facilities, cattle, rice paddies, landfills Natural: bacteria in soils and the ocean Anthropogenic: fertilizer use, livestock waste, fossil fuel combustion, sewage, industrial processes (especially the production of nylon) Fossil fuel combustion Methane (CH4) Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Ozone (O3) in the troposphere Chlorofluorocarbons Refrigerators, air conditioners, (CFCs) manufacturing foam products, aerosols, etc. No natural sources. Sulfur Hexafluoride Used in circuit breakers. No natural sources. GWP (Global Warming Potential) 100 years % of Anthropogenic Warming Resulting From this Gas 70% 12 years 25%2 28 - 36 114 years 6% 298 Hours to days 8% * varies Effect will decrease over time as CFCs are phased out Varies but generally well over 1000 3,200 years 1 22,800 GWP is a comparison of the global warming potential of one unit of the gas compared to one unit of carbon dioxide. The higher the GWP, the more effectively it traps heat. *The short lifespan of ozone makes it difficult to calculate a meaningful GWP for this gas. The magnitude of the role a gas plays in climate change includes the concentration in the atmosphere and the amount of the gas released each year, its lifespan in the atmosphere (the length of time the average molecule spends in the atmosphere), and its GWP. Carbon dioxide is generally considered to be the most important greenhouse gas because we release so much carbon dioxide into the air each year.