Wednesday's Weather Word: The Greenhouse Effect

What is the Greenhouse Effect?

So much focus and debate on global warming keeps greenhouse gases as a hot topic recently. Initially it may seem that because of this the greenhouse effect has a negative impact on our planet. However, it's the exact opposite. If it weren't for the greenhouse effect the Earth would be so cold it would be uninhabitable.

The greenhouse effect refers to the warming Earth experiences thanks to the atmosphere's absorption of radiation from the sun. The natural greenhouse gases, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide, absorb some of the sun's radiation and allow some to escape.

We run into an issue when greenhouse gases, such as CO2, are added to the atmosphere in addition to the naturally occurring gases. Less heat is able to escape the atmosphere when there are more greenhouse gases present than nature intended. The added gases absorb more heat resulting in a warmer atmosphere which can lead to an increase in average global air and ocean temperatures. 

The increase, while slight, can make a difference in addition to the natural phases of heating and cooling that Earth experiences.

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