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The Greenhouse effect and Global warming

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Biology holiday research Meetal Odedra 12V The Greenhouse effect and Global warming The earth is warm because we receive radiation from the Sun. Much of this radiation reaches the atmosphere as short wave radiation which passes through the atmosphere and reaches the ground. Some of the radiation is absorbed by the ground and re-emitted as long wave radiation which warms the atmosphere. Within the atmosphere there are several gases which absorb this long wave radiation, preventing much of it from passing out and away from the Earth. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour. They form a 'blanket' around the Earth, keeping in the long wave radiation and therefore keeping the air and the ground warmer then it would otherwise be. This effect is very similar to the way in which the glass in a greenhouse keeps the air and soil around it warm, and so it has become known as the greenhouse effect. The gases which cause it are sometimes referred to as the greenhouse gases. The greenhouse effect is very important to life on Earth. Without it temperatures on Earth would be so cold that it is unlikely that any life would have evolved at all. However there is concern that human activities are currently increasing the amount of carbon dioxide (and also methane) ...read more.


The estimate of global temperatures over the last 160 000 years show that the temperature fluctuations closely match the carbon dioxide fluctuations. There is no direct proof that carbon dioxide concentrations directly affect temperatures, it could equally mean that temperatures affect carbon dioxide levels or there is some other factor affecting the both of them. Other factors which may be relevant include sunspot activity and the variation in the distance of the Earth from the Sun. But because we do know that carbon dioxide acts as a greenhouse gas, most scientists currently accept the hypothesis that carbon dioxide levels do affect global temperatures. The exact effect of the current rise might have on global temperatures is impossible to predict. It is not known how much of the Earth's average temperature is likely to rise nor is it known that how such changes would affect particular parts of the Earth. For example, Britain is kept warmer then it otherwise would be by a current of warm water, the Gulf Stream that flows across the Atlantic Ocean. Ocean currents are produced by uneven heating of the Earth's atmosphere and surface which produce wind and water movements. Just a small change in global temperatures could cause a current suddenly to change direction. If the Gulf Stream no longer flowed past Britain then our climate would become noticeably colder while other parts of the world would become warmer. ...read more.


Most people believe that we should attempt to reduce the rate at which carbon dioxide levels are rising. An international summit at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 brought agreement between in many countries to try and do this. Measures that can be taken include reducing the amount of fossil fuels which are burnt; this can be done by using other sources of energy to generate electricity (such as nuclear fuels, wind and water), by making our use of fossil fuels more efficient (such as by using 'lean-burn' engines in cars), and by reducing the demand for energy by industry and individuals (such as by installing insulation in homes, and building more energy efficient homes.) Other measures also include reducing the rate of deforestation and planting more trees where possible and also conserving soils, especially peat, which contain large amounts carbon. Some success has already bee achieved, but as always a balance has to be reached between what environmentalists think is needed and what industrialists think is needed. In conclusion the greenhouse effect is currently very important to life on Earth but is seen to cause many pending problems by global warming in the future. But at present the effects of this are impossible to predict and what specifically is causing it is yet unknown. ...read more.

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