What is the green house effect?

3 Answers
Jan 9, 2016

The trapping of heat energy by elements in the atmosphere.


The Earth is heated by the sun, but the atmosphere is heated by the Earth. Although energy from the sun is in all different wavelengths, the majority is what we generally like to refer to as short wave radiation.

All energy will interact with matter depending on the wavelength of that energy and the type of matter. For example, very short wavelengths like xrays will pass through most matter, but be stopped by things like calcium and lead.

In the case of the Earth and Sun, the shortwave radiation passed through the atmosphere without too much interference and reaches the surface of the Earth. This radiation then heats the Earth. The warmed Earth then radiates energy of it's own. This energy is sensible heat (meaning we can feel it), and is of a longer wave length than the incoming solar radiation. Now things get interesting.

The incoming short wave radiation passed through the atmosphere relatively unaffected, but the long wave radiation doesn't. The atmosphere has what are referred to as greenhouse gases. These gases (carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, etc.) are transparent to shortwave radiation but opaque to long wave radiation. Essentially they act the same way that the glass walls of a green house act, allowing sunlight to enter the greenhouse but preventing the heat from escaping the greenhouse.

The greenhouse effect is natural and important in the balance of energy between the Earth and the Sun. However the rapid increase of greenhouse gases unbalances things. The only way for the balance to return is for the global temperature to increase.

Green house is a glass roofed house to grow plants in winter.
Its roof allow heat to get in but does not allow to go out.


Due to presence of certain gases like carbon di oxide, Methane Earth atmosphere produce same effect. It allows sun light to get in bur does not allow the reflected infra red waves to get out.This causes to increase in temperature. and is known as green house effect..THis produce global warming.

In green houses visible-light and heat enters through the transparent roof but the reflected infra red rays can not esacpe back It is trapped inside the green house.Thus increases temperature inside green house.


The same is effect is happening in earth's atmosphere with more carbon di oxide, methane, water vapor etc..Reflected sun light can not escapeenter image source here and ambient temperature increases.
picture credit wunderground.com.