Definition of Atmosphere, Elements, Properties and Layers

The earth has its own part which is tasked with covering and protecting it. This part is known as the atmosphere. The atmosphere comes from the word ” atmos ” which means steam and ” sphaira ” which means the globe.

That is, the atmosphere is the layer of air that envelops the earth. The atmosphere is considered part of the earth because the atmosphere also participates in rotating with the earth.

Why is the atmosphere said to be rotating? Because if only the atmosphere did not rotate with the earth, then the movement of the wind over the earth would be very fast, at a speed of 1,667 km per hour. With that high speed, there will be no life that can survive on earth.

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The Atmospheric Element

This atmospheric layer is a mixture of various elements. The atmospheric layer consists of the main elements in the form of Nitrogen (N 2 ) ± 78%; as much as 78.08%, Oxygen (O 2 ) as much as 20.95%, Argon (Ar) as much as 0.95%, and Carbon dioxide (CO2) as much as 0.034%, and other gas-gas elements ± 0.07, such as Neon ( Ne), Helium (He), Ozone (O 3 ), hydrogen (H 2 ), Krypton (Kr), methane (CH 4 ), and Xenon (Xe).

Every element in this atmosphere has its important role. One element that is considered very important in the atmosphere is water vapor. Water vapor (H 2 O) plays an important role in the dynamics of weather or climate. Because, this element changes the phase (form) of water vapor into liquid or solid through condensation and deposition.

Experts through various studies found that the thickness of the atmospheric layer measured from the surface of the sea water reaches 1000 km. In addition to the large thickness, the atmosphere is also very heavy, which is up to 6 billion tons.

Atmospheric Function

The function of the atmosphere for the earth is very important. The atmosphere has the main task of protecting the earth from the disturbance of celestial bodies and the radiation of sunlight that is about to enter the earth.

If there is no layer of atmosphere that protects the earth, then the earth can be perforated and even destroyed by being hit by a celestial body, such as a meteor. In addition, the temperature on earth will also be very extreme between morning and night because of the sun’s rays and radiation that directly penetrate the earth.

The nature of the atmosphere

As the protective layer of the earth the atmosphere has several properties. Atmospheric properties, including:

  • It has no color, no smell, and has no form, and can only be felt by the human sense of taste in the form of wind.
  • Having weight so that it can cause pressure.
  • Has dynamic and elastic properties, which can expand and contract.

Atmospheric Layer

Gases collected in the atmosphere have their own characteristics, characteristics and functions. Experts have also conducted various studies using advanced technological advancements to compile a picture of the structure of the atmosphere.

This atmospheric constituent layer can be divided into five layers, namely the Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere and Exosphere. The following is a description of the atmosphere’s constituent layers.

1 # Troposphere (0–15 km)

The atmospheric layer, called the troposphere, is at the lowest or closest to the earth. Humans and other living things live on this layer. The troposphere is the site of accumulation of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide gases.

In this layer, there is also a lot of water vapor and carbon dioxide which serves to maintain the balance of surface heat of the Earth, especially from infrared radiation from the Sun.

In the troposphere, the temperature decreases with increasing altitude. This decrease in temperature occurs because the absorption of shortwave radiation from the Sun is decreasing.

The lower troposphere layer tends to be hotter. This is caused by the heat of the air emitted from the ground below, through conduction, convection, condensation, and sublimation.

In this troposphere, weather symptoms occur, such as clouds, rain, lightning, typhoons and storms in the troposphere. After the troposphere, there is the stratosphere. And between these two layers, there is a transitional layer called the tropopause. This zone is the aircraft path.

Also consider:  Understanding and Effects of Earth Rotation

2 # Stratosphere (15–50 km)

The stratosphere is a layer of the atmosphere that has two layers of thin gas molecules that do not have a troposphere. In the lower layer of the stratosphere there are sulfate contents that affect the occurrence of rain. While at the top, there is the largest ozone layer.

The stratosphere is an inversion layer, that is, the layer which has the property that the higher or further from the surface of the Earth, the air temperature will increase. The increase in temperature occurs due to the ozone layer which absorbs ultra-violet radiation from the Sun.

The upper part of the stratosphere is called the stratopause, which is the layer that divides the stratosphere from the mesosphere.

3 # Mesosphere (50–85 km)

The air temperature in the mesosphere layer is very cold, until it reaches -100 ° C. This extremely cold air temperature causes meteorites from very hot outer space to break and turn into small rocks that do not endanger life on Earth.

In the mesosphere, there is a layer of electrically charged ions or air called layers D. The D layer is formed by ultraviolet light present in air molecules, which meet negatively charged electrons. In this layer, there are also night clouds that emanate from water vapor or meteorite dust.

4 # Thermosphere (85–500 km)

In the thermosphere layer ionization of gases caused by solar radiation. This condition makes the thermosphere layer also often referred to as the ionosphere. These ionized gas can also make radio communication signals from the surface of the Earth can be reflected back to Earth.

That is, thanks to this layer of the thermosphere, communication activities on earth can occur. In this layer there are also polar rays (aurora) which often appear at dawn or evening.

5 # Exosphere (more than 500 km)

In the exosphere, there is a main gas content in the form of hydrogen. In this layer of the exosphere, the density of the air gets thinner and almost runs out on the threshold of outer space. In the exosphere also appears dim light that is the zodiacal and gegenschein light.

This dim light is actually a reflection of sunlight by a large number of meteorite dust particles and floating in the sky. Usually, artificial satellites are in this layer of the exosphere.

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