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The Greenhouse Effect
The greenhouse effect is an increase in the atmospheric temperature caused
by increasing amounts of greenhouse gases. These gases act as a heat blanket
insulating the Earth's surface absorbing and trapping heat radiation which normally
escapes from the earth. They include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane,
nitrous oxide, CFC's, and other halocarbons.
The earth's atmosphere goes through two processes constantly. Global cooling
is the first process. This process uses the clouds which cover 60% of the earth's
surface to reflect 30% of the solar radiation. It also uses a sulfate haze, which
is formed by sulfur dioxide from industrial sources that enter the atmosphere and
react with compounds to form a high-level aerosol. These cool the atmosphere by
blocking us from direct contact with the sun. The reflection of the sunlight is
referred to as planetary albedo and contributes to the overall cooling.
The second is the warming process. This is when light energy comes through
the atmosphere and is absorbed by Earth and transformed to heat energy at the
planet's surface. The infrared heat energy then radiates upward into space. There
the greenhouse gases found naturally in the troposphere absorb some of the infrared
radiation. The gases insulate the Earth, but do eventually allow the heat to
escape. Without these greenhouse gases the earth would be would 33 C colder.
Global temperature is a balance of the effects of the fact...