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# The Greenhouse Effect

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Source:
Author: Janice VanCleave

### Heat Transfer in the Atmosphere

The gases in the Earth's atmosphere are warmed by heat radiated from the Earth's surface. These warmed gases surround the Earth and act like a blanket, keeping the Earth warm.

In this project, you will demonstrate the greenhouse effect. You will discover how materials of the Earth's surface affect the greenhouse effect. You will examine the relationship between the greenhouse effect and surface temperatures at night. You will determine how composition and density of the atmosphere affect its ability to trap infrared energy. You will also show how cloud cover affects the surface temperatures at night.

### Getting Started

Purpose: To demonstrate the greenhouse effect.

### Materials

• two shoe boxes
• ruler
• soil
• two thermometers
• colorless plastic food wrap
• timer

### Procedure

1. Cover the bottom of each shoe box with about 2 inches (5 cm) of soil.
2. Lay a thermometer on the surface of the soil in each box.
3. Cover the opening of one box with a single layer of plastic wrap. Leave the other box uncovered.
4. Take readings from both thermometers.
5. Place both boxes side by side in a sunny place outdoors (see Figure 42.1).
6. Record readings from both thermometers every 15 minutes for 1 hour.

### Results

The temperature readings show that the temperature inside the plastic-covered box was higher and increased faster.

### Why?

Radiation, also called radiant energy, can move through space, and is not carried by matter. Radiation is also a term for the process by which this energy is transmitted. Solar energy is radiant energy from the Sun. Solar energy contains all the different forms of radiant energy, but most of the solar energy reaching Earth consists of ultraviolet radiation (causes skin to tan or even burn), visible light (radiant energy that can be seen and is divided into the rainbow colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet), and infrared radiation (energy in the form of heat given off by all hot bodies).

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