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Zoom Astronomy
THE EARTH
Back to the Planets
Introduction: Size, Orbit, etc. How Fast is Earth Moving? Continental Drift Oceans The Atmosphere Clouds Magnetosphere Moon
Axis Tilt,
Seasons
How is its Mass Determined? Inside
the Earth
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Web Links
Geologic Time Chart

The Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is an increase in the temperature of a planet as heat energy from sunlight is trapped by the gaseous atmosphere. Excess carbon dioxide and water vapor increase this global warming effect.

Solar Energy (sunlight) is short-wavelength radiation which easily penetrates the Earth's atmosphere and warms the Earth; only about one quarter of incoming sunlight is reflected by the atmosphere. The warmed Earth emits long-wavelength radiation (infrared waves or heat energy) back into space; these longer waves are mostly reflected back to Earth by the atmosphere.

The size of the atmosphere in the illustration above is greatly exaggerated in order to show the greenhouse effect. Most of the Earth's atmosphere is within 10 miles (16 km) of the Earth's surface).



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Our subscribers' grade-level estimate for this page: 3rd - 4th
Table of Contents Enchanted Learning
All About Astronomy
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The Sun The Planets The Moon Asteroids Kuiper Belt Comets Meteors Astronomers

Your weight on the Planets The Planets Your age on the Planets
Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune pluto


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