CO2 heat transfer

Suggested Alt-text to go along with the image when shared elsewhere:

Three-part image explaining the mechanics of how the CO2 heat transfer works

Part 1 - Non-greenhouse gas:

Shows an N2 or O2 molecule and an infra-red (IR) photon entering and exiting with caption "IR photon has little or no effect on N2 or O2"

Part 2 - Greenhouse gas radiative energy transfer:

Shows a CO2 molecule absorbing IR photon's energy in step 1 and the CO2 molecule re-radiating the IR-photon in step 2

Part 3 - Greenhouse gas kinetic energy transfer:

Step 1: CO2 molecule absorbs photon

Step 2: CO2 molecule is in an energized state where motion = heat energy

Step 3: CO2 collides with N2 and O2 molecules, transfering its motion/heat energy

Step 4: CO2 molecule is ready to absorb another IR photon

Step 5: Cold N2 or O2 molecules can absorb more motion/heat energy (higher altitude = colder)

Step 6: Cold layers are now warmer and the atmosphere contains more heat. (There's no height limit to this effect).

Creative Commons License The Skeptical Science website by Skeptical Science is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.