Greenhouse effect

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The absorption of infrared radiation by the atmosphere, keeping heat near the Earth's surface

Brief Description

The Earth's atmosphere absorbs much of the long-range (infrared) radiation which is released by the Earth. This radiation is represented as heat.

The atmosphere therefore acts as insulation, trapping the heat and keeping the Earth warm. This acts like the glass in a greenhouse, hence the name.


The greenhouse effect regulates the temperature of the Earth's surface. It allows life to survive.

An example of an extreme greenhouse effect is on Venus. There the surface temperature is 470 °C (higher than the melting point of lead).

See also

Greenhouse Gases