atmosphere academy news – Earth’s Atmosphere

Increased penetration of ultraviolet radiation to the planet’s surface would damage plant life and have harmful environmental consequences. Rocky debris from space that enters Earth’s atmosphere.

atmosphere academy staff – Why Does Earth Have An Atmosphere?

ATMOSPHEREAstronauts aboard the International Space Station took this image showing Earth’s atmosphere and moon on July 31, 2011. Earth’s atmosphere is our natural shield against the harsh conditions of space— including everything from meteors and falling satellites to deadly ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It also contains the air we breathe, the weather we experience and helps to regulate planetary temperatures.

The solar system has two major types of planets: terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) and gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). layer in the atmosphere containing the gas ozone, which absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

It provides daily information on the global atmospheric composition by monitoring and forecasting constituents such as greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane), reactive gases (e.g. carbon monoxide, oxidised nitrogen compounds, sulphur dioxide), ozone and aerosols.



The atmosphere’s exact volume is tricky to define, since it gets thinner at higher altitudes and doesn’t have a firm boundary. If you compressed the whole thing to the density of normal surface air, it would be about 10 kilometers thick, and take up a volume of 4 billion cubic kilometers. 4 billion km3 of air is enough to fill a cube 1,000 miles high, which is nearly the volume of the solid core of the Earth. That gives us a rough idea of the scale of our hole.

Earth’s atmosphere is similar to a jacket for our planet. It surrounds our planet, keeps us warm, gives us oxygen to breathe, and it is where our weather happens. Earth’s atmosphere has six layers: the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the thermosphere, and the exosphere.

The hot air from the equator eventually moves north or south to other climate regions. That warmer air combines with cooler air, mixing begins, and storms form. The constant mixing of the atmosphere maintains a stable system that helps organisms survive. Oxygen will never run out in one area of the planet and temperatures will not skyrocket in another. The atmosphere balances the possible extremes of the Earth and creates an overall stability.

This layer exists between seven to 31 miles above the surface of Earth. Unlike the troposphere below, the air temperature actually increases with altitude making the air stratified. When possible, commercial jet aircraft fly in the lower stratosphere to avoid the turbulence which is common in the troposphere, due to convection.

Beautiful auroras , also known as the Northern and Southern lights, occur in the thermosphere when solar flares from the sun create magnetic storms near the poles. These magnetic storms strip atoms of their electrons. Brilliant green and red light is emitted when the electrons rejoin the atom, returning the atoms to their original state. Even higher—above the auroras and the ionosphere—the gases of this final atmospheric layer begin to dissipate, until finally, several hundred miles above the earth, they fade off into the depths of space.

The atmosphere can be divided into layers based on its temperature, as shown in the figure below. These layers are the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere and the thermosphere. A further region, beginning about 500 km above the Earth’s surface, is called the exosphere.

The atmosphere surrounds the Earth and holds the air we breathe; it protects us from outer space; and holds moisture (clouds), gases, and tiny particles. In short, the atmosphere is the protective bubble in which we live.

The atmosphere of Earth is composed of nitrogen (about 78%), oxygen (about 21%), argon (about 0.9%), carbon dioxide (0.04%) and other gases in trace amounts. 3 Oxygen is used by most organisms for respiration ; nitrogen is fixed by bacteria and lightning to produce ammonia used in the construction of nucleotides and amino acids ; and carbon dioxide is used by plants , algae and cyanobacteria for photosynthesis The atmosphere helps to protect living organisms from genetic damage by solar ultraviolet radiation , solar wind and cosmic rays The current composition of the Earth’s atmosphere is the product of billions of years of biochemical modification of the paleoatmosphere by living organisms.

one of the four enormous outermost planets in the solar system (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus), composed mostly of gases instead of rock. Also called a Jovian planet. Earth’s atmosphere contains the air we breathe, the weather we experience and is our natural shield against the harsh conditions of space.

The Earth’s atmosphere is a thin layer of gases that surrounds the Earth. It composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon, 0.03% carbon dioxide, and trace amounts of other gases. This thin gaseous layer insulates the Earth from extreme temperatures; it keeps heat inside the atmosphere and it also blocks the Earth from much of the Sun’s incoming ultraviolet radiation.

Different molecules absorb different wavelengths of radiation. For example, O2 and O3 absorb almost all wavelengths shorter than 300 nanometers Water (H2O) absorbs many wavelengths above 700 nm. When a molecule absorbs a photon, it increases the energy of the molecule. This heats the atmosphere, but the atmosphere also cools by emitting radiation, as discussed below.


The mesosphere starts at 31 miles (50 km) and extends to 53 miles (85 km) high. The top of the mesosphere, called the mesopause, is the coldest part of Earth’s atmosphere, with temperatures averaging about minus 130 degrees F (minus 90 C). This layer is hard to study. Jets and balloons don’t go high enough, and satellites and space shuttles orbit too high. Scientists do know that meteors burn up in this layer.

Climate describes the average weather conditions of a particular place over a 30 year period All places on earth have their own climates. Some climates are small in scale, like the climate of a local region or the microclimates within an ecosystem, and some are much larger, such as the climates of entire continents, or the world’s oceans. Different from weather events, which are short-term and temporary phenomenon, climates are usually steady and predictable, and shape how organisms and human civilizations evolve and adapt in any given region. However, climates are not always permanent, and can change drastically due to human activity. Explore the world’s climates and how they affect local regions and the planet with this curated collection of resources.

Atmospheric circulation is the large-scale movement of air through the troposphere, and the means (with ocean circulation ) by which heat is distributed around Earth. The large-scale structure of the atmospheric circulation varies from year to year, but the basic structure remains fairly constant because it is determined by Earth’s rotation rate and the difference in solar radiation between the equator and poles.

Argon is used in light bulbs, in double-pane windows, and used to preserve the original Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Plants use carbon dioxide to make oxygen. Carbon dioxide also acts as a blanket that prevents the escape of heat into outer space.

The atmosphere is so spread out that we barely notice it, yet its weight is equal to a layer of water more than 10 meters (34 feet) deep covering the entire planet. The bottom 30 kilometers (19 miles) of the atmosphere contains about 98 percent of its mass The atmosphere—air—is much thinner at high altitudes. There is no atmosphere in space.

The mesosphere a layer extending from approximately 30 to 50 miles (50 to 85 km) above the surface, is characterized by decreasing temperatures. The coldest temperatures in Earth’s atmosphere occur at the top of this layer, the mesopause, especially in the summer near the pole. The mesosphere has sometimes jocularly been referred to as the “ignorosphere” because it had been probably the least studied of the atmospheric layers. The stratosphere and mesosphere together are sometimes referred to as the middle atmosphere.

space within the solar system but outside the atmospheres of any planets or moons. Also called the interplanetary medium. rocky debris from space that enters Earth’s atmosphere. Also called a meteor. brightly colored bands of light, visible around Earth’s geomagnetic poles, caused by solar wind interacting with particles in Earth’s magnetic field.

The atmosphere acts as a gigantic filter , keeping out most ultraviolet radiation while letting in the sun’s warming rays. Ultraviolet radiation is harmful to living things, and is what causes sunburns. Solar heat, on the other hand, is necessary for all life on Earth.

Note: This section of the Water Science School discusses the Earth’s “natural” water cycle without human interference. phenomenon where gases allow sunlight to enter Earth’s atmosphere but make it difficult for heat to escape.

The atmosphere plays an important role in the protection of life on Earth; it absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation and reduces temperature extremes between day and night. process by which plants turn water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide into water, oxygen, and simple sugars.

By absorbing dangerous UV radiation, the ozone in the stratosphere protects us from skin cancer and other health damage. However chemicals (called CFCs or freons, and halons) which were once used in refrigerators, spray cans and fire extinguishers have reduced the amount of ozone in the stratosphere, particularly at polar latitudes, leading to the so-called “Antarctic ozone hole”.

Earth’s atmosphere is our natural shield against the harsh conditions of space— including everything from meteors and falling satellites to deadly ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It also contains the air we breathe, the weather we experience and helps to regulate planetary temperatures.

In the lower atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, clouds of water, ammonia , and hydrogen sulfide form clear bands. Fast winds separate light-colored bands, called zones, from dark-colored bands, called belts. Other weather phenomena , such as cyclones and lightning , create patterns in the zones and belts. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a centuries-old cyclone that is the largest storm in the solar system.

The atmosphere has a mass of about 5.15×1018 kg, 9 three quarters of which is within about 11 km (6.8 mi; 36,000 ft) of the surface. The atmosphere becomes thinner and thinner with increasing altitude, with no definite boundary between the atmosphere and outer space The Kármán line , at 100 km (62 mi), or 1.57% of Earth’s radius, is often used as the border between the atmosphere and outer space. Atmospheric effects become noticeable during atmospheric reentry of spacecraft at an altitude of around 120 km (75 mi). Several layers can be distinguished in the atmosphere, based on characteristics such as temperature and composition.

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