What is the Greenhouse Effect and How Does it Work?

PART OF OUR EDUCATIONAL SERIES 

The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring process in the earth’s atmosphere that warms the planet. In the absence of a greenhouse effect, the average temperature at the earth’s surface would be approximately 60oF colder.

Visible light from the sun passes through the atmosphere and is absorbed by the earth’s surface – some of that energy is then emitted back to the atmosphere as heat. Greenhouse gases slow the escape of that heat into space, raising the temperature of the atmosphere and the earth’s surface. The greenhouse effect is natural, but human-induced increases in greenhouse gas concentrations further slow the escape of heat, causing additional warming, which changes the climate.

 

Source: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

Website: http://www.c2es.org/science-impacts/basics/faqs/climate-science

This article is part of our educational series on Climate Change. See related articles below.