What is the runaway greenhouse effect? What planets does it work on and what are the consequences?

1 Answer
Feb 27, 2018

"Runaway Greenhouse Effect" is the positive feedback cycle that continuously raises an atmosphere's temperature to some new equilibrium point.


It cannot continue forever - that is not the way the mass and energy balances work. However, a new equilibrium temperature point may severely affect the planetary climate(s) and the ability of life to continue to exist.

A planet must have a sufficient atmosphere of heat-absorbing compounds and sufficient star energy to initiate and promote an unstable runaway greenhouse effect.

A normal balanced greenhouse effect is necessary for sustaining life on Earth.

The planet Venus may be a good example of an accelerated greenhouse effect that has now established a new equilibrium point.