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Greenhouse Effect - gases and radiated back toward the...

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Greenhouse Effect The greenhouse effect is named after the glass houses used to keep plants warm during cold weather. Energy in the form of visible light from the Sun passes through the glass walls and glass roofs of a greenhouse and heats up the plants and soil inside the greenhouse. The air in contact with the plants and soil gets warmed up. The glass walls and roofs prevent the hot air from escaping to the outside. The same sort of thing happens to the interior of your car when you leave it out in the Sun with the windows rolled up. On a planet, certain gases like carbon dioxide or water vapor in the atmosphere prevent heat energy in the form of infrared light from leaking out to space. These so-called "greenhouse gases" allow visible light from the Sun to pass through and heat up the surface. A planet's surface is warm enough to emit infrared light. Some of the infrared light is absorbed by the greenhouse
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Unformatted text preview: gases and radiated back toward the surface, warming the surface even more. Some of the energy is radiated back toward space. The surface warms enough so that the amount that does leak back out to space balances the solar energy flow inward. Note that if the greenhouse was a perfect blanket, then the surface would continue to get hotter and hotter. The primary greenhouse gases found in the atmospheres of our solar system's planets are given in the figure below. Not shown are chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFC's) that are synthesized by humans. On the Earth the relative amounts these molecules contribute to the total greenhouse effect occurring are approximately: 60% for water, 26% for carbon dioxide, 5% for methane, 4% for ozone, 4% for the CFC's/HFC's, and 2% for nitrous oxide (rounding of the numbers to integer values means they will not add up to exactly 100%)....
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