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Easier To Trigger A Runaway Of Greenhouse Effect On Earth
Than Previously Thought

30 July, 2013

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MessageToEagle.com - A new study conducted by researchers at University of Victoria indicates that it may be easier to trigger a runaway greenhouse effect on Earth than initially thought.

The runaway greenhouse effect happens when a planet absorbs more energy from the Sun than it can radiate back into space.

The so-called runaway greenhouse is a very dangerous process that can cause oceans to entirely evaporate.



If a planet absorbs more energy than it can emit, it will heat uncontrollably and evaporate all of the oceans - the runaway greenhouse effect. Previously, it was thought that this would require more energy from the Sun than Earth receives.

Now, scientists know that it can happen, in theory, with the amount of solar energy that Earth now receives.

"What we've shown here is that a runaway greenhouse atmosphere that would sterilize the planet is actually possible for Earth, with the amount of sunlight it receives now," says Colin Goldblatt, an assistant professor in UVic's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.


Absorbed by land, oceans, and vegetation at the surface, the visible light is transformed into heat and re-radiates in the form of invisible infrared radiation. If that was all there was to the story, then during the day earth would heat up, but at night, all the accumulated energy would radiate back into space and the planet's surface temperature would fall far below zero very rapidly.


His research is the most complete look at the runaway greenhouse effect in 25 years.


The Greenhouse Effect


"Fortunately, it would need 10 times more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to trigger this than burning all of Earth's fossil fuels - every bit of coal, oil and gas that exists - would give," Goldblatt added.

The research is published in Nature Geoscience.


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