runaway greenhouse effect
Massive overheating of a planet caused by a high atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases. Such an effect operates on Venus and is responsible for the surface temperature on this planet being several times higher than would otherwise be expected given its distance from the Sun.
There is presently a risk that a runaway greenhouse effect could be triggered on Earth because of the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels caused by burning fossil fuels.
Related category ATMOSPHERIC PHENOMENA AND STRUCTURES
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