What is the Greenhouse Effect?

What is the greenhouse effect? The greenhouse effect is the process through which solar radiation is absorbed and not reflected back into space by greenhouse gases. The impact of this mechanism is that the Earth is much warmer than it would be if there was no atmosphere. One of the factors that have contributed to the Earth’s recent transformation into a habitable planet is the greenhouse effect.

Green house effect


:small_blue_diamond: According to the definition, because sunlight can flow through an atmosphere unimpeded, it can heat the planet’s atmosphere without preventing radiation from the planet’s surface from escaping into space and warming it to a higher degree than it would have otherwise. This phenomenon is known as "the greenhouse effect."More specifically, most sunlight passes through the atmosphere before reaching the Earth’s surface, where it heats the planet.

:small_blue_diamond: While the same amount of energy must then be radiated back to space, the low-frequency radiation from the sun is absorbed by radiatively active components of the atmosphere that make up a small proportion of the atmosphere (greenhouse gases, aerosols, and clouds). These, in turn, radiate heat in all directions so that the surface warms until the upper layer of the atmosphere radiates enough energy outwards to restore equilibrium to the energy flow.

:small_blue_diamond: The Earth would be more than 30 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit) colder Without Earth’s natural greenhouse effect. Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels and the clear-cutting of forests, have enhanced the greenhouse effect and contributed to global warming.

:small_blue_diamond: This is because the intensity of downward radiation – and, consequently, the severity of the greenhouse effect – is proportional to the number of greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere. The temperature of the sea, land surface, and lower atmosphere will continue to rise until the intensity of radiation from below, which cools the Earth, is sufficient to restore balance to the downward flow of energy.

:small_blue_diamond: It is incorrect to refer to the greenhouse effect because actual greenhouses retain heat through a different method. When it comes to the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect is a process that prevents radiative heat loss, whereas a greenhouse prevents convective heat loss.

:small_blue_diamond: In all circumstances, however, the result is an increase in temperature as a result of the process. The Runaway greenhouse effect occurs when positive feedbacks cause all greenhouse gases to be evaporated and released into the atmosphere, as happened on Venus with carbon dioxide and water vapor levels rising to dangerous levels.

:small_blue_diamond: The idealized greenhouse model is a simplification of the real-world situation. However, in actuality, the atmosphere at the Earth’s surface is mainly opaque to thermal radiation. The majority of heat loss from the surface is caused by convection rather than radiation. Nonetheless, as the atmosphere grows warmer, radiative energy losses become increasingly significant, mainly owing to the decreasing concentration of water vapor, an essential greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere.

:small_blue_diamond: More realistically, the greenhouse effect should be considered as affecting a layer in the mid-troposphere, which is effectively connected to the surface due to the lapse rate rather than the surface itself. Similarly, a simple representation presupposes a stable condition, but the diurnal cycle, along with the seasonal cycle and weather disturbances, complicates the situation in the real world.

:small_blue_diamond: Solar heating is only effective during the daytime. Because of the poor emissivity of the atmosphere, it cools only slightly during the night, although not significantly. The variation in temperature throughout the day decreases as altitude in the atmosphere increases.

:small_blue_diamond: Throughout the region where radiative effects are significant, the description provided by the idealized greenhouse model begins to appear more realistic. The Earth’s surface, which has been warmed to an “effective temperature” of approximately 18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit), radiates long-wavelength infrared heat with wavelengths ranging from 4 to 100 microns.

:small_blue_diamond: Greenhouse gases, which were previously essentially transparent to solar radiation, become more absorbent at the longer wavelengths of light. Each layer of the atmosphere containing greenhouse gases absorbs a portion of the heat reflected upward from lower layers of the atmosphere.

:small_blue_diamond: It reradiates in both directions, upwards and downwards; in equilibrium, it reradiates the same amount of energy as it has absorbed (according to definition). As a result, the temperature below rises. With a rise in gas concentration, the quantity of absorption and reradiation increases, further warming the layers and ultimately the surface underneath them.

:small_blue_diamond: Almost all of the diatomic gases (including carbon monoxide, CO) and all gases with three or more atoms (such as Methane, CH4) can absorb and emit infrared radiation, which is why they are known as greenhouse gases.

:small_blue_diamond: Intermolecular collisions cause energy absorbed and emitted by greenhouse gases to be shared with other, non-IR-active gases, even though more than 99 percent of the dry atmosphere is IR transparent (because the main constituent gases—N2, O 2, and Ar—are not capable of directly absorbing or emitting infrared radiation).


:small_blue_diamond: Joseph Fourier suggested the existence of the greenhouse effect in 1824, though he did not call it by that name at the time. Claude Pouillet, in two separate essays published in 1827 and 1838, contributed to the strength of the case and the evidence. John Tyndall was the first to record the infrared absorption and emission of various gases and vapors in a scientific journal.

:small_blue_diamond: After demonstrating that the effect was due to a very small proportion of the atmosphere and that the primary gases had no influence, he went on to show that the result was primarily due to water vapor. However, minor quantities of hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide had a considerable effect.

:small_blue_diamond: Svante Arrhenius, who produced the first quantitative prediction of global warming owing to a hypothetical doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide in 1896, developed a more precise method of quantifying the effect. However, none of these scientists used the term “greenhouse” to refer to this effect; the phrase was first used in this context by Nils Gustaf Ekholm in 1901, and it has been in use ever since.

What are the major Greenhouse Gases?

:small_blue_diamond: Global warming is a result of chemicals known as greenhouse gases trapping heat in the atmosphere. This section provides information on the emissions and removals of the major greenhouse gases into and out of the atmosphere.

  • Water Vapor: In the case of water vapor, It accounts for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions. Natural processes account for about the majority of the water vapor in the atmosphere.

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2): CO2 is a powerful greenhouse gas. In addition to the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), garbage, trees, and other biological materials, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere due to several chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement). As part of the biological carbon cycle, carbon dioxide is absorbed by plants and expelled from the atmosphere (or “sequestered”).

  • Methane: It is produced and transported in significant quantities by burning fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil. Animal farming and other agricultural practices, land use, and the decomposition of organic waste in municipal solid waste dumps are all sources of methane emissions.

  • Nitrous oxide: Animal farming and other agricultural practices, land use, and the decomposition of organic waste in municipal solid waste dumps are all sources of methane emissions. Agricultural, land use, industrial, fossil fuel, solid waste combustion, and wastewater treatment all produce nitrous oxide (N2O).

  • Fluorinated gases: Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride are all examples of fluorinated gases. Alternatives to stratospheric ozone-depleting compounds, such as fluorinated gases, are sometimes utilized (e.g., chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, and halons). Some people refer to these gases as “High Global Warming Potential gases” even though they are normally emitted in smaller amounts (“High GWP gases”).

:small_blue_diamond: There are three primary aspects to consider when it comes to each gas’s impact on climate change:

How much is in the atmosphere?

:small_blue_diamond: A specific gas in the air is known as concentration or abundance. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rises due to more greenhouse gas emissions. We can talk about parts per trillion when it comes to greenhouse gas concentrations. One drop of water diluted into 13 gallons of liquid is equivalent to one part per million (roughly the fuel tank of a compact car).

What is the duration of their presence in the atmosphere?

:small_blue_diamond: Each of these gases can persist in the atmosphere from a few years to tens of thousands of years. Amounts in the atmosphere are nearly identical regardless of the source of emissions because all of these gases linger long enough to become well-mixed in the atmosphere.

How strongly do they impact the atmosphere?

:small_blue_diamond: While all gases contribute to global warming and “thickening the Earth’s blanket,” some are more potent than others.

:small_blue_diamond: Global Warming Potential (GWP) is a measure of how long each greenhouse gas lingers in the atmosphere and how much energy it absorbs. More energy is absorbed per pound by gases with a higher global warming potential (GWP) than by gases with a lower global warming potential (GWP).


The greenhouse effect is the process through which solar radiation is absorbed and not reflected back into space by greenhouse gases. Global warming is exacerbated by greenhouse gases, which are chemicals that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. The majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from the release of water vapor.

Green house effect

How are these greenhouse gases produced by human activity?

:small_blue_diamond: Many countries still rely on coal, oil, and natural gas for their energy needs. Fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas are made up primarily of carbon, and when they’re burned, they release carbon dioxide.

:small_blue_diamond: 55 percent of human-caused methane emissions come from oil and gas extraction, coal mining, and waste landfills. Methane emissions from livestock (cows, sheep, and other ruminants) account for 32% of all human-caused methane emissions. Rice farming and the breakdown of manure are two other agricultural sources of Methane.

:small_blue_diamond: Many agricultural techniques lead to the generation of nitrous oxides. Soil and water naturally convert nitrogen into nitrous oxide, but fertilizer use and discharge contribute to this process by releasing additional nitrogen into our atmosphere.

:small_blue_diamond: Other GHGs are fluorinated gases, like hydrofluorocarbons and Sulphur hexafluoride; these are not found in nature. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were phased out because of their impact on the ozone layer and are now being replaced by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The others are employed in manufacturing and commerce.

:small_blue_diamond: But despite their relative rarity and lack of impact on the ozone layer, fluorinated gases are still quite powerful. Some fluorinated gases have a global warming potential up to 16,300 times larger than CO2 during 20 years.

How Do We Reduce Greenhouse Gases?

:small_blue_diamond: Stopping the increase of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide is essential to halting climate change. GHG concentrations in the atmosphere have risen over the past 150 years due to fossil fuel consumption and deforestation, which naturally remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is possible to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by either reducing emissions or boosting the Earth’s capacity to delete them.

:small_blue_diamond: Climate mitigation is the term for this. To combat climate change, there is no solitary strategy. Our best hope of halting climate change is to come up with a slew of various remedies. The most often used techniques are listed below.

:small_blue_diamond: Numerous countries in the world have already begun implementing some of these ideas. Some of these issues can be handled by individuals, such as reducing energy consumption, taking public transportation, driving an electric vehicle, or utilizing renewable energy sources. To help reduce climate change, local governments, regions, and countries should work together to implement measures such as switching coal and gas power plants to renewable sources of energy and expanding public transportation.

1. Use less energy

:small_blue_diamond: It is possible to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing power use, especially when generated by burning coal or natural gas. A quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to electricity usage.

:small_blue_diamond: You can save money by switching to energy-efficient LED light bulbs, improving your house’s insulation, lowering the thermostat in the winter, and raising it in the summer, especially when no one is home. These are just a few simple actions you can take to reduce your electricity usage.

:small_blue_diamond: Buildings are becoming more energy efficient because of the new technologies such as low-flow water faucets, smart thermostats, and new air conditioning systems that use refrigerants that do not contribute to global warming. On hot days, cool or green roofs in cities and suburbs can assist reduce the urban heat island effect by limiting the amount of heat that enters buildings.

2. Generate electricity without emissions

:small_blue_diamond: Wind turbines, wave and tidal energy, waste and biomass energy, and hydropower are all examples of renewable energy sources. Unlike fossil fuels, these renewable energy sources do not discharge greenhouse gases into the environment while they generate electricity. Because it produces no greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear energy can be viewed as a potential solution to the problem of global warming. However, long-term storage is required for the radioactive waste it produces.

:small_blue_diamond: There has been an increase in electricity generated by renewable sources in recent years. Iceland and Costa Rica, for example, are currently relying almost exclusively on renewable sources of electricity. The share of electricity generated from renewable sources is still small (5-10 percent) in many other countries, but it is steadily increasing.

3. Shrink the footprint of food.

:small_blue_diamond: Currently, nearly one-fifth of the world’s carbon emissions come from breeding farm animals for meat consumption. A potent greenhouse gas is released when cattle burp, and their manure also contains carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, released during the digestion process. Forests, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, are frequently cleared to make room for livestock grazing.

:small_blue_diamond: Reduced emissions can be achieved by eating a primarily or totally plant-based diet (e.g., vegetables, bread, rice, beans). According to the Drawdown Project, a plant-rich diet could keep 65 gigatons of carbon dioxide out of the sky for 30 years if half the world’s population adopted it by 2050. 65 gigatons of carbon dioxide are the equivalent of nearly two years of fossil fuel and industry emissions. More than 90 gigatons of carbon dioxide can be saved from the atmosphere over 30 years by reducing food waste.

4. Travel without greenhouse gas

:small_blue_diamond: Fossil fuels operate the majority of the modes of transportation we use today, including cars and planes. To put it another way, transporting goods and people accounts for 14 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide output. Alternate technologies that either don’t require fuel (like bicycles and electric cars) or use less of it allow us to reduce pollution (like hybrid cars).

:small_blue_diamond: Fewer vehicles on the road and fewer greenhouse gas emissions when people take public transportation, carpool, bike, and walk. Bus routes, bike paths, and walkways can make it easier for individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their communities.

5. Reduce emissions from industry

:small_blue_diamond: Each step in the production process requires energy, from mining raw materials to disposal waste. Approximately 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from manufacturing, including everything from cell phones and televisions to clothing and shoes created in factories.

:small_blue_diamond: There are strategies to reduce manufacturing emissions. A smart first step is to utilize materials that aren’t derived from fossil fuels and don’t contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases. Cement, for example, releases carbon dioxide during the hardening process, although there are non-carbon-emitting alternatives.

:small_blue_diamond: Plastics derived from fossil fuels are being replaced with bioplastics derived from plants. Renewable energy sources can also be used to power factories and carry the items they make in fuel-saving cargo ships.

6. Remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

:small_blue_diamond: We can use several ways to reduce our impact on the environment while also increasing the quantity of carbon dioxide we remove from it. Carbon sinks are the locations where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. The number of carbon sinks can be increased by planting trees and bamboo.

:small_blue_diamond: It’s important to preserve carbon-rich ecosystems such as grasslands, peatlands, and wetlands. Soil health can be maintained by using techniques like crop rotation and the planting of cover crops. The removal of huge quantities of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere may also be possible with carbon dioxide removal technology.

Why is the Greenhouse effect bad?

:small_blue_diamond: There is no doubt that our atmosphere has seen a dramatic increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases, and these changes have already had a significant impact on the climate. While the greenhouse effect has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks.

  • Global warming: As previously stated, the increasing amount of greenhouse gases are causing an increase in Earth’s average temperature throughout time. It has started to melt Polar Ice Caps, which has resulted in significant climatic change.

  • Increased level of CO2: Marine life and plant photosynthesis are both being negatively affected by an increased quantity of CO2, one of the most common greenhouse gases. Climate change is causing sea levels to rise, endangering the lives of millions of people who live in coastal areas.

  • Rising water levels: As you can see, the greenhouse effect has advantages and disadvantages. After decades of enjoying the benefits of this natural phenomenon, our own actions are causing the Earth to suffer. We, as human beings, must be more sensitive to our impact on the environment. Otherwise, no one will be able to save us from our imminent demise.

The disadvantages of the Greenhouse effect

:small_blue_diamond: Since greenhouse gases serve to maintain the temperature, the principal effect of increasing greenhouse gases would be climate change. This would lead to hotter summers and more natural catastrophes. There have been an increasing number of hurricanes in recent years.

:small_blue_diamond: The Earth’s water levels would be out of whack. Ocean levels would rise due to the melting of the polar ice caps. Floods will inundate low-lying areas.

:small_blue_diamond: The marine ecology and its inhabitants would be wiped out. The oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which alters the ocean’s acidity. If alkalinity rises, a wide range of marine life will be badly affected. The ecology of the polar region would be decimated. Polar bears and penguins in the Arctic are under threat from melting polar caps.

:small_blue_diamond: Climate change is also expected to alter the weather. There would be an increase in the number of unpredictable rainstorms, which would affect many parts of the planet. This could lead to desertification in the long run.

:small_blue_diamond: Human and economic life would be drastically altered as a result. The global output would be reduced by 2 to 3 percent due to the increase in temperature. Trillions of dollars are at stake if this plan is implemented. Agriculture may be negatively affected, leading to more frequent famines and diseases associated with them in the future.

In Short

Several human activities cause greenhouse gas emissions, and there are several ways to reduce this emission of gases. Although greenhouse gases serve to maintain the temperature, the principal effect of an increase in greenhouse gases would be on climate change.

Greenhouse Gases and their Contributions

Green house Gases Green house Effect% Natural% Man-Made%
Water Vapor 95.000 94.999 0.001
Carbon dioxide 3.618 3.502 0.117
Methane 0.360 0.294 0.066
Nitrous Oxide 0.950 0.903 0.047
Misc. gases 0.072 0.025 0.047
Total 100 99.72 0.28

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding what is the greenhouse effect?

Q1. What exactly is the greenhouse effect?

The temperature rises induced by the presence of water vapor, carbon dioxide, Methane, and other gases in the atmosphere known as “greenhouse effect” (GW). The most significant effect is caused by water vapor, one of the gases referred to as greenhouse gases.

Q2. What is a good example of the greenhouse effect?

The warming of a car’s interior when left out in the sun is one example of the greenhouse effect that most of us are familiar with. Eventually, the temperature inside your vehicle will rise. Because of the Earth’s greenhouse effect is significantly warmer on Earth than it is in outer space.

Q3. How is global warming caused by the greenhouse effect?

The greenhouse effect is the primary cause of global warming. Gases in our atmosphere operate like the glass in a greenhouse, absorbing solar energy and preventing it from escaping back into space, resulting in increased temperatures on our planet’s surface.

Q4. Is the greenhouse effect good or bad?

In the long run, the greenhouse effect is beneficial. It raises the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere to a tolerable 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). Our planet would be a frozen, inhospitable wasteland without it.

Q5. What are greenhouse gases for kids?

Examples of greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Light can pass through, but heat can’t escape.

Q6. What is the greenhouse effect 7 geography?

"The greenhouse effect is the mechanism through which greenhouse gases absorb solar energy and do not reflect it back into space. "This keeps the Earth’s surface from freezing.

Q7. What is the greenhouse effect essay?

As a natural occurrence, the greenhouse effect exists. Greenhouse gas emissions are rising due to human activities such as cutting forests, burning fossil fuels, and releasing industrial gas into the atmosphere.

Q8. Which two sources of greenhouse gases are the most significant?

A significant portion of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 came from electricity and heat generation. The largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions is burning coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat.

Q9. What are natural sources of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ?

Natural sources of carbon dioxide include the decomposition of organic matter, the release of carbon dioxide into the ocean, and respiration. Activities like deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas are examples of human sources.

Q10. What human activities contribute to the production of greenhouse gases?

Fossil fuel combustion for electricity, heat, and transportation is the primary source of Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, published by the EPA, keeps a close eye on all of the country’s emissions.


:small_blue_diamond: When gases in the Earth’s atmosphere capture solar radiation, this is referred to as the greenhouse effect. Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to global warming. In actuality, the atmosphere at the Earth’s surface is mainly opaque to thermal radiation.

:small_blue_diamond: Greenhouse gases are chemicals in the atmosphere that trap heat and contribute to global warming. Natural processes account for about the majority of the water vapor in the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels produces Methane. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by plants and expelled from the atmosphere.

:small_blue_diamond: Local governments, regions, and countries should work together to implement measures to reduce climate change. Public transportation, carpools, bike paths, and walkways can also help reduce emissions. An increase in greenhouse gases would lead to hotter summers and more natural catastrophes.

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