icon for interactivity Interactive: The Science of Climate Change

Structure of the Atmosphere

Understanding the structure of the atmosphere is critical in understanding where and how global warming occurs. This visualization illustrates the major layers in the atmosphere and identifies a number of key characteristics and defining attributes of each layer.
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Collisional Heating by CO2 in the Atmosphere

This animation illustrates the absorption of infrared radiation by CO2 in the troposphere and the collisional loss of this absorbed energy to surrounding N2 and O2 molecules. In this animation the user can sweep through a region of the IR spectrum and excite some of the vibrational modes of CO2. A simple (purely qualitative) thermometer illustrates the rise in temperature of the gas as collisional de-excitation occurs.
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co2 image


CFCs in the Atmosphere

cfc The behaviour of CFCs is dependent on both the wavelength of radiation as well as position of the molecule in the atmosphere. In this visualization the user can investigate the various interaction modes of a CFC molecule with electromagnetic radiation across the entire spectrum. The molecule can be rotated in 3D to better view the vibration induced by interaction with light.
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Infrared Spectral Windows

IR window Greenhouse gases produce spectral features in the infrared portion of the spectrum. One area of concern is the rapidly closing "IR window" -a phenomenon which occurs because different greenhouse gases absorb in different parts of the IR window. This has potentially serious consequences for global warming. The applet shows how the IR signatures of a number of greenhouse gases collectively "close" the window.
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Ice-Core Analysis

This is a large applet that introduces the user to the fascinating and complex world of ice-core analysis. Please be patient - download will take a few moments.
Run Applet
ice core analysis


Interactive content and descriptions used with permission. © The King's Centre for Visualization in Science