The Greenhouse Effect Definition

Antero Ollila

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Emer.), School of Engineering, Aalto University, Espoo, Otakaari 1, P.O.Box 11000, 00076 AALTO, Finland.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


The greenhouse effect concept explains the Earth’s elevated temperature. The IPCC endorses the anthropogenic global warming theory, and it assumes that the greenhouse (GH) effect is due to the longwave (LW) absorption by GH gases and clouds. The IPCC’s GH definition lets to understand that the LW absorption is responsible for the downward radiation to the surface. According to the energy laws, it is not possible that the LW absorption of 155.6 Wm-2 by the GH gases could re-emit downward LW radiation of 345.6 Wm-2 on the Earth’s surface. When the shortwave (SW) absorption is decreased from this total LW radiation, the rest of the radiation is 270.6 Wm-2. This LW radiation downward is the imminent cause for the GH effect increasing the surface temperature by the 33°C. It includes LW absorption by the GH gases and clouds in the atmosphere and the latent and sensible heating effects. Without the latent and sensible heating impacts in the atmosphere, the downward LW radiation could not close the energy balance of the surface. The contribution of CO2 in the GH effect is 7.4% corresponding to 2.5°C in temperature. This result does not only mutilate the image of CO2 as a strong GH gas, but it has further consequences in climate models. It turned out that the IPCC’s climate model showing a climate sensitivity (CS) of 1.2°C (caused by CO2 effects only) could not be fitted into the total GH effect of CO2. A climate model showing a CS of 0.6°C matches the CO2 contribution in the GH effect.

Keywords: Greenhouse effect, climate change, climate sensitivity, climate model.

How to Cite

Ollila, Antero. 2019. “The Greenhouse Effect Definition”. Physical Science International Journal 23 (2):1-5.


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