Q:

What is the difference between global warming and the greenhouse effect?

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Quick Answer

Global warming is the increase in Earth's near-surface air and ocean temperatures. The greenhouse effect is when water and carbon dioxide absorb outgoing infrared radiation, increasing the planet's temperature.

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What is the difference between global warming and the greenhouse effect?
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Full Answer

Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming. What is determined to be a greenhouse gas is any heat-trapping gas present in the Earth's atmosphere. The two most common greenhouse gases are water vapor and carbon. These gases help absorb infrared radiation and regulate the Earth's climate.

However, the increase in industrial production has increased the amount of greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere. The increase in carbon dioxide emissions has made it difficult for heat to escape the atmosphere. Heat enters the atmosphere through short wave radiation, heats the surface and exits as long wave radiation. However, the increase in greenhouse gases has increased the amount of long wave radiation. Long wave radiation is difficult to pass through the atmosphere, which in turn contributes to the warming effect.

In the early 1900s, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was less than 300 parts per million. This was before the industrial revolution. However, as of 2005, the amount of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere measured 375 parts per million. While still on the low side, humans are contributing to the increase in carbon dioxide emissions through the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is a good topic for an article on global warming?

    A:

    A good topic for an article on global warming is a comparison of changes in Earth's temperature with the number and strength of storms such as hurricanes, tornadoes and typhoons. Another article topic could study the possible effects of global warming on agriculture.

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  • Q:

    Is it true that global warming doesn't exist?

    A:

    Global warming certainly does exist and has since the first atmosphere formed on Earth. Some global warming has always been present and prevents the Earth from radiating energy back into space at the same rate it receives energy from the sun. When global warming is discussed in science and politics, it is often called anthropogenic, or "human-caused," global warming. This has also been demonstrated to exist.

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  • Q:

    What causes global warning?

    A:

    Global warming is caused by an abundance of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere. The higher levels of carbon dioxide act the same as a blanket, keeping heat in and essentially warming up the temperature of the Earth. Carbon dioxide survives in the atmosphere for a long period of time.

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  • Q:

    What are some science fair projects related to global warming?

    A:

    Science fair projects related to global warming include those that analyze the greenhouse effect, ozone depletion, the El Niño weather pattern and the influence of carbon dioxide. Students also study how climate change affects natural systems and human health in science fair projects.

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