The Greenhouse Effect

The Basics of the Greenhouse Effect

  • The Greenhouse Effect is a natural process that warms the Earth’s surface.

  • Sunlight reaches the Earth’s surface and is absorbed, then is re-emitted as infrared radiation.

  • Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and ozone absorb this infrared radiation, trapping the heat and keeping the Earth warm enough to support life.

Greenhouse Effect and the Oceans

  • Oceans are the largest natural reservoirs of carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the key greenhouse gases.

  • Oceans have the ability to absorb and store CO2 from the atmosphere, thus playing a crucial role in moderating the Earth’s climate.

  • This absorption process, while initially mitigating global warming, leads to the accumulation of carbonic acid, resulting in ocean acidification.

  • Ocean acidification disrupts the equilibrium of the carbonate buffer system in oceans, affecting marine life and ecosystems negatively.

Anthropogenic Impacts on the Greenhouse Effect

  • Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, have heavily contributed to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

  • This enhanced Greenhouse Effect, often referred to as global warming, is causing the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system to rise.

  • The resulting climate change impacts the oceans by causing rising sea levels, shifting marine ecosystems, and increasing ocean acidification.

  • It is vital to understand these processes and human effects on them to develop effective strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change.