Gases In The Atmosphere

[/caption]There are different gases in the atmosphere. There’s nitrogen (the most abundant of them all), oxygen, and argon. There are of course a lot more but they’re no more than 1% of the entire atmosphere.

Among the minority are the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide being the most prominent of them all. These gases are presently cast as harmful to the planet, being the primary cause of global warming. Of course, they’re only harmful because they’ve exceeded their ideal levels. Anything that comes in excess is not good, right?

At ideal levels, greenhouse gases play an important role in keeping our planet warm enough for us and other organisms to live comfortably. Unfortunately, the rapid rate of industrialization has caused greenhouse gases to accumulate, forming a layer too thick for infrared radiation (which originally came in from the Sun as solar radiation) to escape.

The different gases in the atmosphere actually make up five principal layers. Starting from the lowest layer, there’s the Troposphere, followed by Stratosphere, then the Mesosphere, then Thermosphere, and finally the Exosphere.

The peak of Mount Everest, high as it is, is still part of the Troposphere. The Stratosphere is the layer at which most weather balloons fly. The Mesosphere is where meteors mostly ignite. The Thermosphere is where the International Space Station orbits.

Since the Karman line (which serves as the boundary between the Earth’s immediate atmosphere and outer space) is found in the lower region of the Thermosphere, much of this layer of gases in the atmosphere is considered outer space. Finally, the exosphere, being the outermost layer, is where you can find the lightest gases: hydrogen and helium.

Many properties of the gases in the atmosphere are dependent on the altitude at which they are found. For instance, average density of these gases generally decrease as one rises to higher altitudes. As a result, the pressure (being due to the collisions of the particles that make up the gas) also decreases in the same manner.

Since the force of gravity pulls down on the masses of these gases, the heavier gases are typically found near the surface of the Earth while the lightest ones (e.g. hydrogen and helium) are found in higher altitudes. All these properties are just generalizations though. Temperature and fluid dynamics also influence these properties.

Want to learn more about the atmosphere and air pressure? You can read about both here in Universe Today.

Of course, you can find more info at NASA too. Follow these links:
Earth’s Atmosphere
Earth

Tired eyes? We recommend you let your ears do the work for a change. Here are some episodes from Astronomy Cast:
Atmospheres
Plate Tectonics

John Carl Villanueva

A Physics teacher who turned freelance writer but still missed Physics just the same. He also writes for: APCmag.com 2live2blog.blogspot.com and Robot Reviews (News & Blog section, under the username eigenlance

Recent Posts

Astronomers Challenge Recent Findings About Venus. “No Statistically Significant Detection of Phosphine”

In September, a team of scientists reported finding phosphine in the upper atmosphere of Venus.…

2 hours ago

Scientists Think They Know What Caused the Deadliest Mass Extinction in the History of the Earth

Humanity can have a love/hate relationship with itself, but there's no denying that we're the…

4 hours ago

Weekly Space Hangout: October 21, 2020, Dr. Jill Tarter and the Search for Technosignatures

https://youtu.be/r3-w75rrJkE This week we are excited (and honored) to welcome Dr. Jill Tarter to the…

6 hours ago

Tales of Two Fall Comets: 88P Howell and M3 ATLAS

Two more comets worth scouting the sky for into November 2020.

8 hours ago

What Would a Realistic Space Battle Look Like?

Science fiction space movies can do a poor job of educating people about space. In…

1 day ago

The Crew of the ISS has Found the Source of the Station’s Air Leak

The ISS crew has found the source of the elusive leak using (wait for it!)…

1 day ago