Climate and Weather: Information and Education

What is Greenhouse effect?

The greenhouse (GH) effect is the phenomenon which happens when sunlight in the form of short-wave radiation reaches to earth through a medium (transparent part of atmosphere) surrounding the earth but part of the reflected energy from earth-surface, which transforms to infrared light or heat (with long wave length) do not pass through that same medium, gets trapped and produces heat. The result of the phenomenon is more and more heating of earth.

This may happen naturally due to the presence of clouds or water-vapor in the atmosphere or it can be man-made. Industrialization and some of the products in our modernized daily lifestyle emit greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon di-oxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone which prevent transmitting the energy in long wave-length form and produce GH effect. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) are the other three GHGs mostly contributed by human activities, also play an important role in GH effect.

On the contrary, we should also know that the complete removal of GHGs from atmosphere would put the survival of us in threat as the presence of a little amount of GHGs in atmosphere is also necessary to maintain the atmospheric temperature in which we can stay alive.



(Source: Dept. of Ecology, State of Washington)