What is it about?

Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in our atmosphere. Higher levels of these gases is causing the earth to heat up. This is called the greenhouse effect, or global warming. The most common greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Nitramide is a naturally occurring chemical substance made up of nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen. Research has shown it could be a source of nitrous oxide, one of the greenhouse gases. There may be more of it in the atmosphere than we thought. In this study, scientists found that sometimes nitramide in the atmosphere is broken down by light. This process is called ‘photodissociation’. It is during this process that nitramide then releases nitrous oxide into the atmosphere.

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Why is it important?

Much of the discussion around global warming focuses on carbon dioxide and carbon emissions. But carbon dioxide is not the only cause of the greenhouse effect. We also need to understand how much of the problem is caused by other gases. We then need to understand how those gases are produced, to make sure we are not doing anything to increase production of those gases. KEY TAKEAWAY: There is more nitramide in the earth’s atmosphere than we realized. It may be the ‘missing’ source of high levels of nitrous oxide, which is one of the gases causing global warming.

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This page is a summary of: Photochemistry of NH2NO2 and implications for chemistry in the atmosphere, The Journal of Chemical Physics, May 2021, American Institute of Physics, DOI: 10.1063/5.0050683.
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