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Environmental Chemistry

Environmental Chemistry



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Published by Anmol Singh Gill

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Anmol Singh Gill on Feb 07, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Earth's atmosphere
is a layer of gasessurrounding the planetEarth  that is retained by the Earth'sgravity. Dry air contains roughly (by molar content – equivalent to volume, for gases) 78.08%nitrogen, 20.95%oxygen, 0.93%argon, 0.038%carbon dioxide, and trace amounts of  other gases; but air also contains a variable amount of water vapor , onaverage around 1%. This mixture of gases is commonly known as
.Theatmosphereprotectslife on Earthby absorbingultraviolet  solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention (greenhouse effect), and reducingtemperatureextremes between day and night.
There is no definite boundary between the atmosphere andouter space.It slowly becomes thinner and fades into space. Three quarters of theatmosphere's mass is within 11 km of theplanetarysurface. An altitude of 120 km (~75 miles or 400,000 ft) marks the boundary where atmosphericeffects become noticeable during re-entry. TheKármán line, at 100 km(62 miles or 328,000 ft), is also frequently regarded as the boundarybetween atmosphere and outer space.
Layers of air surroundingthe earth
The temperature of the Earth's atmosphere varies with altitude; themathematical relationship between temperature and altitudevaries among five different atmospheric layers (orderedhighest to lowest, the ionosphere is part of the thermosphere):
:from 500 – 1000 km (300 – 600 mi) up to 10,000 km (6,000 mi), free-moving particles that may migrate intoand out of the magnetosphereor thesolar wind.
exobase boundary
: the part of the atmosphere that is ionized by solar radiation. It plays an important part inatmospheric electricity and forms the inner edge of the magnetosphere. It has practical importance because, amongother functions, it influencesradiopropagation to distant places on the Earth. It is located in the thermosphere and isresponsible for auroras.
: from 80 – 85 km (265,000 – 285,000 ft) to 640+ km (400+ mi), temperatureincreasing with height.
mesopause boundary
: From the Greek word "μέσος" meaning middle. The mesosphere extends fromabout 50 km (160,000 ft) to the range of 80 to 85 km (265,000 – 285,000 ft), temperature decreasing with height. This isalso where mostmeteorsburn up when entering the atmosphere.
: From theLatin word "stratus" meaning a spreading out. The stratosphere extends from the troposphere's 7 to 17 km (23,000 – 60,000 ft) range to about 50 km (160,000 ft). Temperature increases withheight. The stratosphere contains the ozone layer , the part of the Earth's atmosphere which contains relatively high concentrations of  ozone. "Relatively high" means a few parts per million—much higher than the concentrations in the lower atmosphere but still small compared to the main components of the atmosphere. It is mainly located in the lower portion of the stratosphere from approximately 15 to 35 km (50,000 – 115,000 ft) above Earth's surface, though thethickness varies seasonally and geographically.
tropopause boundary
: From the Greek word "τρέπω" meaning to turn or change. The troposphere is thelowest layer of the atmosphere; it begins at the surface and extends to between 7 km (23,000 ft) at the poles and 17 km(60,000 ft) at the equator, with some variation due to weather factors. The troposphere has a great deal of vertical mixingbecause of solar heating at the surface. This heating warms air masses, which makes them less dense so they rise.When an air mass rises, the pressure upon it decreases so it expands, doingworkagainst the opposing pressure of thesurrounding air. To do work is to expendenergy, so the temperature of the air mass decreases. As the temperaturedecreases, water vapor in the air mass may condense or solidify, releasinglatent heat that further uplifts the air mass. This process determines the maximum rate of decline of temperature with height, called theadiabatic lapse rate. The

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