Today, July 17, the Google Doodle honors the American scientist and activist Eunice Newton Foote. Eunice Newton Foote was the first to discover the alarming effects of carbon dioxide on the atmosphere in 1856. Today, this is known as the “greenhouse effect”.

Compare the temperatures of atmospheric air with the temperatures of various gases when heated. Compared to atmospheric air, carbon dioxide and water vapor superheated more and took much longer to cool down again.

When the sun’s radiation is absorbed by the Earth, some of it is re-emitted as infrared radiation. Gases such as carbon dioxide absorb heat and reflect it back to Earth, creating the ‘greenhouse effect’. Over time, high levels of these greenhouse gases in our atmosphere raise the Earth’s temperature.

Eunice Newton Foote’s research was largely ignored for nearly 100 years. She was, indeed, the first scientist to draw attention to the issue of climate change. Today, many people continue her work in hopes of understanding and improving life on Earth.