The greenhouse effect is the name given to the natural process that causes the Earth to be warmer than it would be in the absence of an atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases are produced naturally and trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, like a blanket.
Water vapour is the largest contributor, responsible for 98 per cent of the natural greenhouse effect.
Global warming is attributed to the enhanced greenhouse effect. This is caused by the increased concentration and effect of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and fluorocarbons.
When fossil fuels are burned in power stations, vehicles, industry or homes, greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere.
Although these gases have always been present in the world's atmosphere their concentration is increasing as more and more fossil fuels are burned.
Increasing greenhouse gases absorb more of solar radiation that is reflected back from the Earth's surface, trapping heat and keeping it in the atmosphere.
The ability of the atmosphere to capture the Sun's warmth is essential for life on earth, but if significantly more warmth is being held in the Earth's atmosphere this will have an impact on the planet.