The global greenhouse effect

The global greenhouse effect

The earth’s atmosphere behaves like a greenhouse. The sun’s radiation easily passes through it and is absorbed by the earth’s surfaces. As it warms up, the earth re-radiates energy of longer wavelengths. This becomes absorbed by water vapour, carbon .dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere. The warm atmosphere, in turn, radiates back to the earth, so making it warmer than it would be otherwise. However, over the past century the amount of carbon dioxide has increased, mostly from burning coal. Indeed, the concentration of carbon dioxide is expected to be doubled by the end of the next century. This will increase the greenhouse effect and consequently the average temperature of the earth should increase.

In all probability this will lead to shrinking of the world’s ice caps with a consequent rise in mean sea level. In addition, there will almost certainly be changes in the world’s wind and weather pattern. Finally, it may help to delay or ward off the possibility of another ice age. This is necessarily a very brief account. Interested readers are referred to several books on the subject, details of which may be obtained from a good library.

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