What’s Up Weather: The cold of space and why Earth isn’t frozen


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Have you ever thought about just how cold space is?

Scientists calculate that the average temperature of space is approximated at -455 degrees F. This brings us to the question, how in the world is Earth not frozen?

Let’s talk about air first. Air itself is a mixture of gases that makes up our planet’s atmosphere. Most of the atmosphere is made up of nitrogen and oxygen. Both those gases together make up 99% of the air we breathe.

The remaining 1% includes a few other gases including greenhouse gases such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons. This atmospheric makeup of gases acts as a blanket, keeping the earth warm.

If we didn’t have an atmosphere, the earth would quite literally freeze. Thanks to the sun and our blanket atmosphere, this doesn’t happen. The atmosphere is able to trap heat on earth because of the greenhouse effect.

During the day, solar radiation from the sun makes its way to Earth’s atmosphere. Some of the solar radiation is reflected back to space while the rest of it is absorbed by land and water. 

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