The Earth's Atmosphere

What is the atmosphere made out of

The Earth is bounded by a blanket of air, which is known as the atmosphere. The atmosphere is primarily composed of gases such as nitrogen, oxygen, and argon. The remaining gases that make up our atmosphere are carbon dioxide, water vapor, ozone, methane, and nitrous oxide.

The Earth’s atmosphere is divided into four distinct layers: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and ionosphere. The very bottom layer that is the closest to the earth’s surface is known as the troposphere. The troposphere is the layer known to be the most dense. As you reach higher into the layer, the temperature drops from about 17 degrees Celsius to -52 degrees Celsius. The troposphere is where all the Earth’s weather takes place, which contains all the rising and falling air. Also, there is a thin layer called tropopause that divides the surface between the troposphere and stratosphere. The stratosphere is the layer that has a horizontal air flow. When compared to the troposphere, the stratosphere is less dense and dry. Due to the absorption of the ultraviolet radiation, the temperature in the stratosphere gradually increases to -3 degrees Celsius. It contains the ozone layer that we are very familiar with. The ozone layer is the concentration of ozone, the reactive form of oxygen, which absorbs the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Today, there are many studies involving the ozone layer. People today are using many substances that have ozone layer depleting gas. This can cause the thinning of or even creation of holes in the ozone layer. The ozone layer depletion causes people to get exposed to high level of ultraviolet radiation, which can cause skin cancer. Located right above the ozone layer is the mesosphere. As you increase in altitude in the mesosphere, the temperature can decrease to as low as -93 degrees Celsius. The mesosphere has strong atmospheric tides, which is an analogue to ocean tides. The last layer, also known as the outer most layer is the thermosphere. As you increase in altitude in the thermosphere, the temperatures can increase as high as 1,500 degrees Celsius. In the thermosphere, the air is really thin thus, small changes in energy can cause dramatic changes in the temperature. In the thermosphere, there is a region known as the ionosphere, where many atoms are ionized and absorb the most energetic photons from the Sun.

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