‘Greenhouse gas‘, we have been hearing about this term since school. Remember how air conditions would emit greenhouse gas ‘CFC’ and that we were supposed to not use them for the same reason?
So greenhouse gas is just like many other gases in the atmosphere, but only with a twist. The gas absorbs energy within its range and emits radiant energy causing a process called greenhouse effect.
What this actually means?
In scientific yet simple words, if the earth’s atmosphere has no greenhouse gas, then the average temperature of our planet’s surface would be −18 °C, rather than what it is today, which is 15 °C.
Which are the greenhouse gases?
- Water vapour
- Carbon dioxide
- Nitrous oxide
What is greenhouse effect?
As the name suggests, its a matter of cause and effect. So, when the earth’s surface warms a
The greenhouse effect is the warming of earth’s surface and the lower atmosphere. This is a result of matter such as CO2 and water vapour that allows the passage of the sun’s energy to reach the ground and the same reflects back, but the matters prevent it from reaching into space.
The solar radiation is mostly absorbed by the earth’s surface, which in turn warms the planet. On the other hand, some of the radiation is reflected back into space by clouds and the earth’s surface. The absorbed radiation that keeps the earth warm emits the energy upwards. These heat waves are strongly absorbed by the greenhouse gases mentioned above.
This is exactly the process through which the temperature of the earth gets warm and emits infrared radiation. The warming of the earth’s surface happens until its temperature reaches a certain level, when the infrared radiation is emitted back into space along with solar radiation, helping in balancing the atmospheric temperature.
Imagine if there was no atmosphere, then what would be the temperature or the impact of the greenhouse effect? The temperature would be at least 33 °C warmer than what’s normal as of now (15°C).
This phenomenon is called the natural greenhouse effect!
Impact of Greenhouse gases in abundance
Just like the doctors say – anything in abundant quantity is always harmful, stands true with our atmosphere as well and especially when it comes to greenhouse gases.
Human activities have significantly increased the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is a fact! What now?
As a result, the capacity of these gases to trap heat has increased significantly by absorbing more and more infra-red radiation. This increased warming of the atmospheres is called the enhanced greenhouse effect.
The seriousness of the enhanced greenhouse effect has many complex factors that influence it. For e.g. the more the temperature of the earth’s surface, the more water vapour evaporates, and because water vapour is itself a greenhouse gas, this increases the warming effect of emissions of the likes of CO2.
Overall, with varying factors affecting the greenhouse gases and atmospheric temperatures, the accurate analysis of the same requires the tremendous amount of scientific inquiry. What we as a part of this planet must understand is that the heat is vertically distributed in our atmosphere by continuous motion, condensation of moist air, evaporation along with the radiative phenomena discussed earlier.
Keep that in mind, it becomes necessary to be aware of the impact of our daily actions on our atmosphere and because the greenhouse effect is lethal, it becomes our responsibility to maintain proper balance in the environment.