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 | About the Greenhouse Effect | Greenhouse Gases |

 | On Changing Climates | Effects of Climate Changes |

About the Greenhouse Effect

The surface of our planet is surrounded by an atmosphere composed of Nitrogen, Oxygen, and some other lesser gas components. These lesser components take up a minor portion of the atmosphere, but influence the atmosphere to a much larger extent. Some of these gases have the ability to take up long wave-length radiation but not short wave-length radiation. They allow some of the sun's radiation to pass through the Earth's atmosphere, which is then absorbed by the Earth's surface. After the surface absorbs the radiation, it then releases long wave-length radiation as infrared waves, which will be stopped by the minor component gases of the atmosphere. The atmosphere then releases some of this radiation, which heats the surface and troposphere. At night, because these gases keep releasing radiation, the Earth doesn't cool down too much from lack of heating from the sun. This effect is similar to the effects of a greenhouse on the environment within it, hence we call these gases "greenhouse gases", and the effect they produce, "The Greenhouse Effect".

Moderate Greenhouse Effect

A moderate amount of the greenhouse effect provides a fitting environment for Earth's organisms, allowing humans to live peacefully in between the changes of the seasons. Without the greenhouse effect, the energy from sunlight would be released very quickly from the surface, and the Earth would cool to about -160∘C, becoming a very cold world.

Excessive Greenhouse Effect

Because of our economic activities, more greenhouse gases are produced. Tropical rainforests can absorb much of the carbon dioxide we produce, but because humans have cut down too many trees, the defenses built up by carbon dioxide using trees have been destroyed, causing the greenhouse effect to increase, resulting in a rise in the global temperature.

Figure: Department of Environmental Protection, Taipei City Government

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