Classroom/Laboratory Activity: Thermal Potential of Carbon dioxide

A classroom/laboratory activity that demonstrates the thermal properties of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, that may contribute to global warming.

Students will investigate the thermal properties of carbon dioxide by comparing the effect of application of heat and light energy on carbon dioxide and air. Students will be able to correlate their observations of the thermal properties of pure CO2 versus air to explain the relationship between increased atmospheric CO2 due to combustion of fossil fuels and an increase in Earth’s surface temperature since the industrial revolution.

Use this tool to help students find answers to:

  1. What is the relationship between increased atmospheric CO2 and global warming?
  2. How is the burning of fossil fuels a potential contributor to climate change?

About the Tool

Tool Name The carbon dioxide greenhouse- is it effective?
Discipline Chemistry, Environmental Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline

Carbon dioxide, Global Warming, Infrared Radiation,

Heat Energy, Light Energy

Climate Topic Climate and the Atmosphere, The Greenhouse Gas Effect
Type of Tool Classroom/Laboratory Activity
Grade Level High school
Location Global
Language English
Developed by Royal Society of Chemistry
Hosted at Royal Society of Chemistry
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic


Four representations chemists use for carbon dioxide. In the colored models, carbon is light gray and oxygen is red.
Credit: Randy Russell (©2006 NESTA)
UCAR Center for Science Education

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