Greenhouse effect, chemistry aspects and effect on human society

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When the word Greenhouse is mentioned, what is the image that comes to mind? For some, a garden greenhouse full of striving plants, while others relate the word with the natural of the process that occurs in the earths atmosphere known as "The Greenhouse Effect". The greenhouse effect, provides the inhabitants of this planet with a comfortable environment by aiding in heating the Earth's surface and atmosphere, it is a key element to life on Earth, without it the Earth would be far too cold for most life to continue living. Although the process is complicated, its principle is not hard to understand.

It works as follows; -

Earths atmosphere acts like a greenhouse, warming our planet just like an ordinary greenhouse in the garden warms the air inside its glass walls. Instead of glass, the gases in the atmosphere let in solar energy in the form of short-wave, infra-red radiation, yet prevents the re-radiated long-wave radiation out.

This report will strive to explain in a little more detail the specifics of "The greenhouse Effect" and outline issues occurring as a result.

This illustration shows how the glass in a normal Greenhouse acts in much the same way as gases in the air.

The Earth's atmosphere, defined as a blanket of gases enveloping the planet held by the gravitational force of the earth, stretches for 560 kilometres from the surface of Earth and like the planet itself, consists of several different layers. Without the atmosphere, the greenhouse gas

The lowest level of the atmosphere - the troposphere- is approximately 14.5 kilometres high from the surface of the earth. Within this layer of our atmosphere, undergo many chemical and physical changes, many of which help determine and is responsible for Earths weather and temperature.

Within the troposphere layer, the important and complex process known as "The Greenhouse Effect" takes place.

Our life takes place in the troposphere, which reaches from the Earth's surface to the top of the clouds.

As the Sun and the energy it emits is a big part in the process of the Greenhouse Effect, to understand the process accurately, one must understand the properties of electromagnetic radiation.

The sun is a remarkably stable and constant source of our planet's light and energy, in which it also radiates large quantities of energy into space. Energy travels through space in the form of "electromagnetic waves" and is radiated across a wide spectrum of wavelengths.

The electromagnetic spectrum includes, from longest wavelength to shortest: radio waves, microwaves, infra-red, visible light, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma-rays.

Although we cannot see most these waves, we experience them every day and are very important in everyday life. Humans have learned to harness and make use of this form of energy; for example Radio waves, television waves, and microwaves are all types of electromagnetic waves.

The only difference between each of these is the wavelength. The wavelength can be defined by measuring the distance between one wave crest to the next wave crest. (See diagram.) If you draw a wave the distance between the peaks of each wave is known as its "wavelength".

Diagram showing the parts of a wave, and demonstrating the two different points from where the wavelength is measured.

Infrared light/radiation lies between the visible and microwave portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Infrared light has a range of wavelengths, just like visible light has wavelengths that range from red light to violet. "Near infrared" light is closest in wavelength to visible light and "far infrared" is closer to the microwave/(1m) region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The longer, far infrared wavelengths are about the size of a human fingernail and the shorter; near infrared ones are the size of a pinhead.

This diagram shows the electromagnetic spectrum, giving an approximation of the size of the wavelength comparative to objects varying in...
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