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 If it were removed, the terrestrial greenhouse effect would collapse, and Earth's surface temperature would drop significantly. Caralin Nunes, The Arizona Republic, 21 Feb. 2024 The runaway greenhouse effect may play out here millions of years from now, making Venus the looking glass into Earth’s future. Shi En Kim, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Feb. 2024 But its proximity to the Sun triggered a runaway greenhouse effect that released uncontrolled amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, choking the planet off from anything resembling a reasonable existence. Popular Mechanics, 25 May 2023 Scientists had already figured out by the late 1800s that a greenhouse effect works to keep the planet warm, and that the carbon dioxide produced by burning coal could enhance that effect. Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY, 10 June 2023 That could cause a runaway greenhouse effect in the later part of the century. Valerie Ross, Discover Magazine, 26 June 2012 So any small greenhouse effect would allow the existence of liquid water. The Physics Arxiv Blog, Discover Magazine, 14 Feb. 2023 In the absence of any greenhouse effect, its surface ought to have an average temperature of -8 degrees centigrade. The Physics Arxiv Blog, Discover Magazine, 14 Feb. 2023 In the world beyond classrooms, thinking about climate change involves much more than merely understanding climate science and the greenhouse effect. Winston Choi-Schagrin, New York Times, 1 Nov. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'greenhouse effect.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1907, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of greenhouse effect was in 1907

Dictionary Entries Near greenhouse effect

Cite this Entry

“Greenhouse effect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

greenhouse effect

: the warming of the earth's atmosphere that occurs when the sun's radiation passes through the atmosphere, is absorbed by the earth, and is given off as radiation of longer wavelength which can be absorbed by atmospheric gases (as carbon dioxide and water vapor)

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