Natural effect that releases heat in the atmosphere (troposphere) near the earth's surface. Water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone, and several other gases in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) absorb some of the infrared radiation (heat) radiated by the earth's surface. This causes their molecules to vibrate and transform the absorbed energy into longer-wavelength infrared radiation (heat) in the troposphere. If the atmospheric concentrations of these greenhouse gases rise and they are not removed by other natural processes, the average temperature of the lower atmosphere will increase gradually. Compare global warming.
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