The atmosphere is like a blanket over our planet. It’s the barrier between space and us. It protects us from harmful radiation and maintains a habitable temperature and the balance of gasses we need to survive. The question is “how?” There are four layers making up our atmosphere: The troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere. Each layer has a different function and quality, which makes it unique.
The troposphere is the layer in which we live and is the layer with the most water vapor.
Water vapor creates all clouds and precipitation. As does carbon dioxide, water vapor absorbs heat given off by earth including some solar energy. This layer is also where all of our weather occurs. Weather occurs because of unequal heating of Earth (caused by motions of Earth relative to the sun) that creates winds and drives the ocean’s currents. This movement transports heat from the tropics to the poles in an attempt to create a homeostasis of energy.
The results of these processes are phenomena we call weather. The air pressure is highest in this layer and the temperatures start out warmer, growing colder as you approach the top. The thickness of the troposphere is not the same everywhere as it varies with latitude and season. This is one of the most important layers seeing as we live in it.
Moving passed the barrier known as the “tropopause”, you will find yourself in the stratosphere. Here, the temperature remains constant to a height of approximately 20 kilometers before it begins to slowly increase until it reaches the stratopause.
The temperatures increase like this due to the atmosphere’s concentration of ozone here. Ozone actively absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This results in the stratosphere being heated. If ozone did not absorb these harmful rays and they were to reach the surface, Earth would be uninhabitable for many living organisms. Jets often fly in this layer of the atmosphere because they can get above the weather, there is often less turbulence and the air pressure is lower which offers less resistance and better fuel economy.