The natural greenhouse effect of atmospheric oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N2)



[1] The effect of collision-induced absorption by molecular oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N2) on the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) of the Earth's atmosphere has been quantified. We have found that on global average under clear-sky conditions the OLR is reduced due to O2 by 0.11 Wm−2 and due to N2 by 0.17 Wm−2. Together this amounts to 15% of the OLR-reduction caused by CH4 at present atmospheric concentrations. Over Antarctica the combined effect of O2 and N2 increases on average to about 38% of CH4 with single values reaching up to 80%. This is explained by less interference of H2O spectral bands on the absorption features of O2 and N2 for dry atmospheric conditions.