What is the greenhouse effect, and how does it work. Well the sun gives off different types of radiation. The ozone layer is opaque (doesn’t let through) to the Sun’s short ultra-violet radiation, but is transparent (lets through) to the Sun’s visible and near infrared radiation. Once the infrared radiation gets through our ozone it passes through our atmosphere and greenhouse gases, Carbon dioxide, Methane, and water vapor. The greenhouse gases are transparent to the Sun’s visible and near infrared radiation. Next the radiation is absorbed by Earth. Earth then reradiates the energy at an even longer wavelength (far infrared). This time only a small fraction escapes back into space. The greenhouse gases are opaque to far infrared radiation; this means the radiation becomes trapped. The greenhouse gases Carbon dioxide, Methane, and water vapor absorb the reradiated energy and start the cycle over again, continuously heating Earth’s atmosphere. This is how the greenhouse effect works.
How is the use of fossil fuels related to the greenhouse effect and global warming? Burning fossil fuels releases the greenhouse gas Carbon dioxide. The Carbon dioxide is transparent to the Sun’s incoming radiation. When Earth reradiates energy it can’t get through the Carbon dioxide. The Carbon dioxide traps the radiation. This is called the greenhouse effect. With the radiation now trapped it heats up the troposphere (where we live). As we continue to emit Carbon dioxide the Sun continues give off radiation. The radiation keeps getting trapped. This results in increased temperatures around the world, called global warming.
Human activity is responsible for some of the global warming now occurring. According to “What’s up with the Weather” Carbon dioxide levels started to rise at the beginning of our industrial revolution. This would be when we started to burn massive amounts of fossil fuels. The “National Geographic poster, Greenhouse Earth” shows that...
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