Greenhouse effect

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A good proportion of the heat penetrating the Earth’s atmosphere is not reflected back into space but is “trapped” by clouds and water vapor. This heat is thus returned to the surface, maintaining an average temperature of 15°C on Earth. Without it, the temperature would be nearer -18°C. Increasing quantities of certain gases in the atmosphere-called greenhouse gases-such as carbon dioxide are thought to amplify this phenomenon, leading to an increase in temperature on the surface of the globe.