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What is Meant by Greenhouse Effect? - Environmental Studies

Answer in Brief

What is meant by greenhouse effect? 

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Solution

  • The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring process that keeps the Earth’s surface and atmosphere warm.
  •  It is due to the fact that certain atmospheric gases like carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour, are capable of trapping the sun’s heat.
  • This natural trapping of heat or the greenhouse effect has made Earth habitable. This effect helps to maintain the Earth’s mean temperature at 15˚C while in absence of the greenhouse effect it would have been about -18˚C.
  • However, due to human activities the concentrations of the greenhouse gases has increased which will enhance the greenhouse effect thereby, increasing the Earth’s surface temperature beyond 15˚C. This is referred to as global warming.
  • Besides carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour other greenhouse gases are include CFCs and ozone. Methane is produced naturally when vegetation is burnt, digested or rotted in the absence of oxygen. It is also released in paddy fields, coal mines, from rotting garbage dumps and by fossil fuels. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are man-made industrial chemicals used in air conditioning etc. Nitrous oxide occurs naturally in the environment. In recent years, their quantities have increased significantly due to the use of chemical fertilizers and the burning of fossil fuels.
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