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That trapped energy, or heat, serves to keep our planet warm.Earth’s atmosphere works something like a giant glass greenhouse.
That rise in carbon dioxide “is essentially entirely due to the burning of fuels,” Susan Solomon says.
She’s a senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in Boulder, Colo., and studies factors that affect climate.
This effect is caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and other gases in the air, many of them released by human activity.greenhouse effect The warming of Earth’s atmosphere due to the buildup of heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane.
Scientists refer to these pollutants as greenhouse gases.methane A hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4 (meaning there are four hydrogen atoms bound to one carbon atom).
Carbon dioxide acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere.
Plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen during photosynthesis, the process they use to make their own food.climate The weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period.deforest The act of removing most or all of the trees lands that used to hold forests.fossil fuels Any fuel (such as coal, oil or natural gas) that has developed in the Earth over millions of years from the decayed remains of bacteria, plant or animals.global warming The gradual increase in the overall temperature of Earth’s atmosphere due to the greenhouse effect.
Humans have further increased the levels of greenhouse gases in the air by changing the landscape.
Plants take up carbon dioxide to make food in a process called photosynthesis.
Since then, average global temperatures are still increasing, causing record-breaking heat waves such as this one, which hit Europe in late July.
Science News astronomy reporter Lisa Grossman visits the pristine-sample lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.