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Earth Science: Atmosphere Essay

708 words - 3 pages

The atmosphere is practically everything above the Earth’s surface. It starts at ground level and then just goes on upward, getting thinner and colder until it finally dissolves into space. The atmosphere makes our world livable. It is responsible for winds, weather, temperature and a lot more features that make the Earth different than other planets. Without it, the Earth would be more like the moon.From a general point of view, the atmosphere’s composition seems simple. It contains oxygen produced mostly by algae and other plants. Statistically speaking, it is composed of 79% nitrogen, 20% oxygen and 0.036% carbon dioxide. The rest is made up of small amounts of other gases. The atmosphere is divided into four layers. The atmosphere also has a layer of ozone.The layers of the atmosphere listed from lowest altitude to highest altitude are the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere. The troposphere extends from the Earth’s surface up to about 14 kilometers in altitude. All human activities occur in the troposphere. The troposphere is the layer where all weather we experience takes place. It is a thin layer of the atmosphere. The warmest part of the troposphere is at the bottom. Commonly in the troposphere, altitude increases as temperature decreases. However there is an exception. Depending on wind currents, mountain ranges can cause lower troposphere areas to have an opposite effect.The next layer is called the stratosphere. There are gradual changes from the troposphere to the stratosphere. The stratosphere starts at about 11 km in altitude. Here, the air flows mostly sideways. Most commercial aircraft travel takes place in the lower part of the stratosphere. Extremely high and wispy clouds can form in the lower stratosphere; however no major weather formations can take place in the stratosphere. In this layer, temperature increases as altitude increases.The third layer of the Earth’s atmosphere is the mesosphere. This layer extends from 50 to about 80-90 km in altitude. Temperatures in the upper mesosphere fall as low as -100°C. The temperature varies in this layer by latitude and season. Temperature decreases with altitude in the mesosphere....

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