We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Dr Darren R. Gröcke

Gröcke, D. R. (2009). “Greenhouse” (Warm) Climates. In Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments. Dordrecht: Springer-Verlag. 397-405.

Author(s) from Durham


Definition and origins of the term “greenhouse”
The term “greenhouse” is defined, as follows, from a climatological standpoint in the online ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ (OED), based on the textbook by Trewartha (1937, p. 25):
“The phenomenon whereby the surface and the lower atmosphere of a planet are maintained at a relatively high temperature owing to the greater transparency of the atmosphere to visible radiation from the sun than to infra-red radiation from the planet.”
It is now becoming clear that although Trewartha (1937) may have been the first person to use the term “greenhouse effect,” the concept and discussion of ancient cold/warm climates began in the previous century. Although many sources cite Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier as the originator of the greenhouse effect (Fourier, 1827), this has been called into question. The most significant attack on the abuse of Fourier’s work has been published by Fleming (1999), who states that ...