The phenomenon in which outgoing infrared radiation
that would normally exit from a planet's atmosphere but instead, is trapped or
reflected because of the presence of the atmosphere and its components (see
below) is called the greenhouse effect. It has been calculated that this effect
is necessary to maintain the earth's climate and surface temperature and, more
importantly, the liquid state of water in the majority of the earth's biosphere;
however, the best scientific estimates to date suggest that increasing amounts
of greenhouse gases are resulting in higher temperatures worldwide. This could
result in melting of icecaps that would raise the sea level and cause
devastating floods in coastal areas, more extremes in rainfall and intensity,
and the distribution of species in the biosphere.
[The Greenhouse Effect;
Matthew Kreljic, ed.; 1992; HW Wilson Co.; New York.] [Climatic Change; v20: p.