13 thoughts on “Oh well, never mind”

  1. OK, challenge: correct the passage in question, keeping it the same short size as the original.

    [I was afraid someone would say that. How about “When sunlight strikes the Earth’s surface, some of it is absorbed and re-radiated as infrared radiation”? -W]

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  2. The third paragraph also falls short. There’s no mention of re-emission, plus the transition from infrared radiation to heat is confusing.

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  3. Technically, I think the sunlight part is irrelevant as stated: the Earth’s surface emits in the infrared because of its temperature, regardless of why it holds that temperature. The only reason sunlight is relevant to the working of the greenhouse effect is that it has a shorter wavelength so the atmosphere interacts differently with incoming versus outgoing radiation, but that isn’t mentioned.

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  4. “Sunlight is converted to heat (at Terra’s surface) and the heat leaks away. The leakage rate is controlled by carbon dioxide.”

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  5. Re Nick’s “When sunlight warms the Earth’s surface, infrared radiation is emitted.”

    Sounds like emitting infrared is part of the warming process, shouldn’t it be (like Paul suggested):

    Earth’s surface cools by emitting infrared radiation.

    [Both are dubious, when you’re thinking about the steady state, because the sfc neither warms nor cools; it maintains its steady state by emitting IR to balance the incoming SW -W]

    Unlike solar radiation, greenhouse gasses absorb some of this infrared radiation and trap the heat in the atmosphere.

    (25 words vs 29)

    I think I would also prefer to see:

    Earth would be around 35C cooler at the surface without greenhouse gasses making it ice covered and even colder than that due to increased reflection of solar radiation.

    rather than hand-waving about inhospitable though that is a bit longer.

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  6. OK, I’ll bite.

    The Earth’s atmosphere contains “greenhouse gases” such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane.

    These gases allow the atmosphere to radiate energy.

    Some of this energy is absorbed at the Earth’s surface, making it warmer than it would be without this source of energy – this is known as the greenhouse effect.

    Without the greenhouse effect, (blah, blah, etc)

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  7. How about “human activities since the Industrial Revolution have given the planet a global facelift”

    (guess who — before Google indexes it — if you can)

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  8. Found another explanation for ya:
    ——-excerpt follows—-

    Greenhouse gasses like CO2 and methane have higher heat capacities than many other gasses, causing the atmosphere to retain more heat.

    “The atmosphere becomes a heat source itself, radiating heat back onto the Earth…..”
    —–end excerpt—–

    That’s quoting “NASA climatologist Bill Patzert” — the full text is at http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/03aug_summer2012/

    Kind of makes my head hurt a bit, reading that.

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