Nitrous oxide  

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In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report concluded, "It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century." The largest human influence has been the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. In view of the dominant role of human activity in causing it, the phenomenon is sometimes called "anthropogenic global warming" or "anthropogenic climate change." Climate model projections summarized in the report indicated that during the 21st century, the global surface temperature is likely to rise a further depending on the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. These findings have been recognized by the national science academies of the major industrialized nations.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous, nitro, or NOS is a chemical compound. It is an oxide of nitrogen. At room temperature, it is a colourless, non-flammable gas, with a slightly sweet odour and taste. It is used in surgery and dentistry for its anaesthetic and analgesic effects. It is known as "laughing gas" due to the euphoric effects of inhaling it, a property that has led to its recreational use as a dissociative anaesthetic. It is also used as an oxidizer in the launching of rockets and in motor racing to increase the power output of engines. At elevated temperatures, nitrous oxide is a powerful oxidizer similar to molecular oxygen.

Nitrous oxide gives rise to nitric oxide (NO) on reaction with oxygen atoms, and this NO in turn reacts with ozone. As a result, it is the main naturally occurring regulator of stratospheric ozone. It is also a major greenhouse gas and air pollutant. Considered over a 100-year period, it has 298 times more impact per unit mass (global warming potential) than carbon dioxide.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Nitrous oxide" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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