Diagram showing light energy (white arrows) emitted by the sun, warming the earth's surface which then emits the energy as heat (orange arrows), which warms the atmosphere and is then re-emitted as heat by three of the greenhouse gas molecules (water, carbon dioxide, and methane) The intensity of the downward radiation – that is, the strength of the greenhouse effect – will depend on the atmosphere's temperature and on the amount of greenhouse gases that the atmosphere contains.
Earth’s natural greenhouse effect is critical to supporting life, and initially was a precursor to life moving out of the ocean onto land.
Most of this thermal radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere and warms it.
The atmosphere also gains heat by sensible and latent heat fluxes from the surface.
The continent’s surface temperatures are typically 20°C colder than the temperature a few hundred meters up in the atmosphere, he explains.
The persistent temperature inversion causes high-altitude greenhouse gases to actually emit more heat to space than they trap, Sejas says.Most of the remaining energy is absorbed at the surface of Earth.Because the Earth's surface is colder than the Sun, it radiates at wavelengths that are much longer than the wavelengths that were absorbed.Earth receives energy from the Sun in the form of ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared radiation.About 26% of the incoming solar energy is reflected to space by the atmosphere and clouds, and 19% is absorbed by the atmosphere and clouds.Add to it another weather phenomenon called a temperature inversion, where the atmosphere warms as altitude increases, rather than growing colder, and things truly start to go awry.“Antarctica is the only place in the world where the surface is colder than the stratosphere,” says Justus Notholt, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Bremen in Germany.Venus may have had water oceans, but they would have boiled off as the mean surface temperature rose to 735 K (462 °C; 863 °F) The existence of the greenhouse effect was argued for by Joseph Fourier in 1824.The argument and the evidence were further strengthened by Claude Pouillet in 18 and reasoned from experimental observations by Eunice Newton Foote in 1856.“I like how the team’s analysis breaks down the effect” between CO and water vapor, says Karen Smith, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Toronto in Canada who is unaffiliated with the study.That approach clearly highlights what makes Antarctica unique, she adds.