Our rocky planet earth is wrapped up in a gaseous blanket known as the atmosphere. In fact, it’s the only planet in the solar system with an atmosphere that can sustain life. The atmosphere also protects us from the radiation and the heat of our Sun. By day the atmosphere stops getting too hot, and by night, it wraps up in a blanket to stop us from getting too cold. It also provides all-weather oxygen to breathe, water vapor, and temperature control.
The atmosphere is about a hundred kilometers thick and is broken down into five different layers. It starts with the troposphere closest to the earth, which extends to 14.5 kilometers. This is the densest part and is where the clouds are found. Nearly all of the weather happens here. Then the stratosphere absorbs and scatters harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.
The atmosphere causes the blue sky, white moon, blue ocean, white clouds, and rainbow. The Sun hits the molecules in the atmosphere which cause the light to scatter off in all directions giving different color.
What is atmosphere of earth?
The Earth’s atmosphere is a collection of gases, and it surrounds the entire planet. Atmospheric science is about the science of the atmosphere. It’s about the dynamics of the way the earth’s atmosphere system. The atmosphere is an envelope of air made up of various gases surrounding the earth and rests on its surface. It has mass weight and an indefinite shape. The atmosphere is composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases such as argon or helium. Some of these elements are heavier than others.
The heavier elements, such as oxygen, settle to the surface of the earth. While the lighter elements rise to higher altitudes, most of the atmosphere’s oxygen is contained in the area below 35,000 feet. However, there are various kinds of pressure as pilots are concerned with atmospheric pressure. The atmosphere’s thickness is limited, and therefore, the higher the altitude, the less air there is above it. For this reason, the weight of the atmosphere at 18,000 feet is approximately one-half.
Atmospheric pressure varies with time and location. Due to the changing atmospheric pressure, a standard reference point was developed. The standard atmosphere at sea level is a temperature of 15 degrees Celsius and a surface pressure of 29.92 inches of mercury or 1013 point 2 millibars. The standard temperature lapse rate is when temperature decreases at a rate of approximately 2 degrees Celsius per thousand feet up to an altitude of 36,000 feet at 36,000 feet.
The temperature is approximately negative 65 degrees Fahrenheit or minus 55 degrees Celsius above. At this point, the temperature is considered constant, up to 80,000 feet. A standard pressure lapse rate is when pressure decreases at a rate of approximately one inch of mercury per 1000 feet of altitude to 10,000 feet. The International Civil Aviation Organization or ICAO has established these pressure and temperature lapse rates worldwide.
What are the 5 layers of the atmosphere?
The atmosphere is the layer of gases that surround the earth. It includes the air that we all breathe. The atmosphere is invisible, but a lot is going on up there. It has different layers starting on the ground and stretching up into space.
The troposphere is the layer closer to the surface of the earth. It is the first layer of the atmosphere. Also, it’s the one where humans and animals live in. It extends from the Earth’s surface to about twelve and a half miles in the sky. It measures approximately 10 kilometers high. Clouds are found in the troposphere, and weather phenomena like wind, rain, or snow occur here.
The temperature is typically descending with height. Once it reaches the tropopause, an inversion occurs. A radius sound is used to measure the temperature and other elements of the vertical atmosphere. A radius sound is a small box that contains weather instruments. The tropopause is the boundary that separates the troposphere from the stratosphere.
Temperature: The temperature at sea level and the bottom of the troposphere are 15° C (59° F). Higher up, the temperature drops about 6.5° C with each increase in altitude of 1 kilometer (about 3.6° F per 1,000 feet). At the top of the troposphere, the temperature is -57° C (-70° F).
Pressure: The pressure ranges of this layer are 1000 to 200 millibars (29.92 in. ~ 5.92 in.).
Area: From the ground, it extends about 12 kilometers or 7.5 miles high.
Structure: 75% of the mass of the atmosphere. Approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% argon with small amounts of additional gases, including water vapor and carbon dioxide.
Weather is formed in this layer. Water evaporates from land to become snow or rain. The vapor contributes to the greenhouse effect. It traps the sun’s heat close to our planet. As a result, warm or cool weather comes. Hot air balloons fly in this layer.
The layer above the troposphere is called the stratosphere. It spans from the tropopause to about 31 miles up, containing about 20% of the Earth’s gas. At the very bottom of this layer are powerful winds that blow eastward. It is called the jet stream. When large planes fly from west to east, they often hop into the jet stream. That extra push of wind from behind allows them to fly faster. Also in the stratosphere is the ozone layer.
Ozone is a special kind of oxygen that absorbs most of the sun’s harmful radiation, like ultraviolet rays, which cause sunburn. Without the protection of the ozone layer, few living things could survive on earth. Air is less dense at 15 miles. So the absorption of intense solar energy at 30 miles raises the temperature to a much greater degree.
The stratopause is the boundary that separates the stratosphere from the mesosphere. This boundary is typically found around 30 miles above the surface of the earth. It also marks the spot where the inversion stops and temperatures start to decrease with height again.
Scientists have discovered a hole in the ozone layer over the South Pole. They’re concerned that certain chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs from aerosol sprays and refrigerators may have caused this bummer. If the hole gets any larger, that means more radiation will reach the earth. And there could be potential problems for the future.
Temperature: The temperatures increase with altitude. At the top of this layer has about 270 K (−3°C or 26.6°F).
Pressure: 1 millibar or 0.75 mm of mercury at 0 °C, or 0.03-inch mercury at 32 °F.
Area: It extends from the tropopause to about 50 kilometers (32 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
Structure: It contains a thin layer of ozone molecules that form a protective layer and absorb harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Also, it contains 24% of the atmospheric mass. Airplanes from jet aircraft fly in the stratosphere layer.
The mesosphere protects Earth from large rock-like objects from space called meteoroids. When meteoroids enter, the friction between the meteoroid and the mesosphere causes most meteoroids to burn up hot stuff. Occasionally large numbers of meteors enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up all at the same time. The air at this level is very spin.
About 99.9% of the atmosphere’s molecules are below this level. It means that only one-thousandth of all the atmosphere molecules are above this level. There are several reasons why we can’t live in the mesosphere. The percentage of nitrogen and oxygen is about the same at the surface. The low air density would make it very hard to breathe. Pilots that fly near 10,000 feet for too long without the proper equipment can experience something called hypoxia.
There is little ozone in this layer. So there is less absorption of solar radiation in this layer. And this is why temperatures decrease with height up to near 85 kilometers. At this height, temperatures are coldest at negative 90 degrees Celsius or negative 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature: It is the coldest layer in Earth’s atmosphere. The temperature of this layer is -90° C or -130° F.
Pressure: It has 0.01 millibars or 1 Pa pressure level.
Area: It extends from about 50 to 85 km (31 ~ 53 miles) above the earth.
Structure: 0.1% of the air mass, dry air, water, polar mesospheric clouds.
It is the layer above the mesosphere. The thickest layer in the atmosphere is called the thermosphere. The thermosphere extends to an altitude of 85 to 500 kilometers above sea level. This layer is the warmest of all five layers. Air temperature on the surface of the earth is kept constant. In this layer, temperatures can rise to more than 2,000 degrees Celsius. The International Space Station orbits the earth within the thermosphere.
The sun’s ultraviolet radiation turns to heat and causes the air to be very hot up to 1500 degrees Celsius or more. Scientists break the thermosphere down into two more layers. The lower part of the thermosphere is the ionosphere. When the sun’s radiation reaches this layer, the particles become electrically charged or ionized. These electrically charged particles can cause the sky to glow. It is called an Aurora, and in the Northern Hemisphere, these glowing particles are also called the Northern Lights.
Temperature: In the daytime, The thermosphere is 200° C (360° F) hotter. Active Sun time is 500° C (900° F) hotter. At the upper thermosphere temperature range is about 500° C (932° F) to 2,000° C (3,632° F) or higher.
Pressure: The pressure level is 0.005 MB (0.0005 kPa).
Area: It extends from the mesopause to 700 kilometers (435 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
Structure: It has the lightest gases, mainly oxygen, helium, and hydrogen. The aurora and satellites mainly occur in this layer.
The exosphere is a skinny layer. The upper part of the thermosphere is called the exosphere. It is the last layer of the atmosphere. It starts about 550 kilometers or 342 miles above the surface. EXO means outer Inlet. And the outer atmosphere is so thin here that one molecule of air can travel great distances without coming close to another molecule. It is the outermost limit with space and protects the earth from solar flares. There’s nothing but hydrogen and helium. Satellites orbit the earth within the exosphere.
In this layer, oxygen molecules absorb energetic solar rays. This warms the air because there are relatively few atoms however and molecules in the thermosphere. The absorption of a small amount of energetic solar energy can cause a vast increase in air temperature. The air density in this layer is so low.
Temperature: The temperature range is 0 to over 1700 degrees Celsius. This layer is colder at night and much hotter during the daytime.
Pressure: The pressure is about 0.0007 atmospheres which is negligible.
Area: It extends from the top of the thermosphere to 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles) above Earth’s surface.
Structure: It has a very thin air layer. This layer is made up of helium and hydrogen.
The five-layer of the atmosphere is very important to protect the earth and create biodiversity. All of the layers have specific characters and specific working processes that help to build a good atmosphere. So we should protect all of this layer to protect lives.
- What Is The Troposphere Layer
- What Is The Mesosphere Layer
- Temperature Of The Thermosphere Layer
- What Happens In The Stratosphere Layer
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Gunell, H.; Maggiolo, R.; Nilsson. “Why an intrinsic magnetic field does not protect a planet against atmospheric escape.” Astronomy and Astrophysics.
“Scientists Detected An Incoming Asteroid The Size Of A Car Last Week – Why That Matters To Us.”
Williams, Matt. “What Is The Atmosphere Like On Other Planets?”. Universe Today.