greenhouse effect


Definition of greenhouse effect

: warming of the surface and lower atmosphere of a planet (such as Earth or Venus) that is caused by conversion of solar radiation into heat in a process involving selective transmission of short wave solar radiation by the atmosphere, its absorption by the planet's surface, and reradiation as infrared which is absorbed and partly reradiated back to the surface by atmospheric gases

Examples of greenhouse effect in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And, like a blast from the near past, the greenhouse effect is back in a big way: Greenhouse gases have been less visible in public-facing activism about climate change, but have steadily increased for decades. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "11,000+ Scientists Declare Climate Emergency," 5 Nov. 2019 Eventually, our current atmosphere, with a greenhouse effect driven by carbon dioxide and water vapor, emerged. James Trefil And Michael Summers, Smithsonian Magazine, "If Aliens Exist Elsewhere in the Universe, How Would They Behave?," 31 Dec. 2019 As time went on and the Sun poured more energy onto Earth, the makeup of the planet’s atmosphere changed as well, influencing the temperature through the greenhouse effect. James Trefil And Michael Summers, Smithsonian Magazine, "If Aliens Exist Elsewhere in the Universe, How Would They Behave?," 31 Dec. 2019 This is due to a runaway greenhouse effect, Pete explains. Anchorage Daily News, "‘Planet walk’ puts some things in perspective," 14 Sep. 2019 The land is sinking, still reacting to the collapse of glaciers thousands of years ago, and waters are rising, as the greenhouse effect from emissions warms oceans and melts polar ice. Scott Dance,, "‘I can’t believe how much of it is gone:’ Chesapeake Bay Foundation says goodbye to Fox Island as seas rise," 1 Nov. 2019 Since a cow has about the same greenhouse effect as a car, cutting the emissions of even a portion of the world’s 1.5bn cattle would bring great benefit. The Economist, "The answer to livestock that burp methane may be seaweed," 2 Nov. 2019 Whatever happened, so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere caused a runaway greenhouse effect, evidenced in the scorching hot temperatures on the planet now. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Venus was potentially habitable until a mysterious event happened," 20 Sep. 2019 Even though water vapor is more important for the natural greenhouse effect, changes in carbon dioxide have driven past temperature changes. Jason West, The Conversation, "Why carbon dioxide has such outsized influence on Earth’s climate," 13 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'greenhouse effect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of greenhouse effect

1907, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of greenhouse effect was in 1907

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Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Greenhouse effect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for greenhouse effect

greenhouse effect


Kids Definition of greenhouse effect

: warming of the lower atmosphere of the earth that occurs when radiation from the sun is absorbed by the earth and then given off again and absorbed by carbon dioxide and water vapor in the atmosphere

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