greenhouse effect
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Greenhouse Gas Basics
MSU Extension Service
Michigan State University
Extension Publications E3148

Many chemical compounds in the atmosphere act as greenhouse gases. These gases allow sunlight (shortwave radiation) to freely pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and heat the land and oceans. The warmed Earth releases this heat in the form of infrared light (longwave radiation), invisible to human eyes1. Some of the infrared light released by the Earth passes through the atmosphere back into space. However, greenhouse gases will not let all the infrared light pass through the atmosphere1. They absorb some and radiate it back down to the Earth. This phenomenon, called the greenhouse effect, is naturally occurring and keeps the Earth’s surface warm.

Spanish Language version

Julie E. Doll and Marci Baranski, W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University, Michigan State University Extension. Climate Change and Agriculture Fact Sheet Series
April 2011, 2 page

This publication is available from the MSU Extension Bookstore

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