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Chapter 3
Solar Energy as Radiation

Figure 1.1
Nearly 150 million kilometers separate the sun and earth, yet solar radiation drives earth's
Earth's Atmosphere

Thin Gaseous envelope

99% of atmospheric gases, including water vapor, extend only 30 kilometer (km) above
earth's surface.

Most of our weather, however, occurs within the first 10 to 15 km.


78% nitrogen

20.6% oxygen

< 1% argon

0.4% water vapor

0.036% carbon dioxide

other gases:
Ne, He, Kr, H, O3
Methane, Nitrous Oxide
What is the physical structure of the atmosphere?

- multi-layered, with little chemical interaction

- most of the mass is near the surface

What is the chemical structure of the atmosphere?

- nitrogen by far the most common element

- oxygen is second most common
- greenhouse gasses are small in amount, but important!
Structure of the Atmosphere



Ozone Maximum


Temperature Inversion
 An increase in air temperature with height
often called simply an inversion.
Laspe rate
 The rate at which air temperature decreases
with height.
Aerosols & Pollutants

Human and natural

activities displace tiny
soil, salt, and ash
particles as suspended
aerosols(an aerosol is a
suspension of fine solid
particles or liquid
droplets in a gas), as
well as sulfur and
nitrogen oxides, and
hydrocarbons as

 Soot is a general term that refers to impure

carbon particles resulting from the incomplete
combustion of a hydrocarbon.
 Source: internal combustion engines, power
plant boilers,ship boilers, central steam heat
boilers,local field burning,
house fires, forest fires, fireplaces, furnaces,

 smog is a type of air pollution derived from

vehicular emission from internal combustion
engines and industrial fumes that react in the
atmosphere with sunlight to form secondary
pollutants that also combine with the primary
emissions to form photochemical smog. Smog
is also caused by large amounts of coal burning
in an area caused by a mixture of smoke, sulfur
dioxide and other components.
 When a thick fog engulfed London from December 5 to December 9,
1952, it mixed with black smoke emitted from homes and factories
to create a deadly smog. This smog killed approximately 12,000
people and shocked the world into starting the environmental
movement.The unusual cold in London in the winter of 1952-1953
caused additional coal combustion and many people travelled only by
car, which caused the occurrence of a combination of black soot,
sticky particles of tar and gaseous sulphur dioxide. This resulted in
the heaviest winter smog episode known to men.
Measurements suggested that the concentration of particulate
matter in the air had reached 56 times its normal level. Sulphur
dioxide concentrations increased to seven times its peak level. The
smoke particles trapped in the fog gave it a yellow-black colour.
Sulphur dioxide reacted with substances in foggy droplets to form
sulphuric acid, adding an intense form of acid rain to the process.
 A temperature inversion occurs when the air closer to the ground is
cooler than the air above it. This cool air is denser than the warmer
air above it and does not rise, as warmer air relative to that above it
would, but remains trapped under the inversion, close to the ground.
Temperature inversions are uncommon but occur more frequently on
cold winter nights because the ground cools and water vapor
precipitates on low-level dust particles, forming a mist. This caused
the thick, smoke-polluted air to be trapped under the inversion. After
nightfall, the fog thickened and reduced visibility to only a few
meters. The following 114 hours in London experienced visibility less
than 500 meters with 48 hours below 50 meters visibility. Heathrow
Airport had visibility levels below 10 meters for nearly 48 hours
following the morning of December 6. The city was brought to a
practical standstill with road, rail, and air transport unable to operate
because of the impaired visibility.

Both fog and mist are water droplets that have

condensed because the saturated air has
become cold. They are low lying clouds. The
difference between them is their thickness.
With a fog, the visibility is less than one
kilometer, with a mist, the visibility must be at
least one kilometer. Smog is a fog with soot in it
Cloud Formation

Precipitation is one key to the water cycle. Rain comes from clouds,
but where do clouds come from?
Through the process of evaporation and transpiration, water moves
into the atmosphere. Water vapors then join with dust particles to
create clouds. Eventually, water returns to Earth as precipitation in
the form of rain, snow, sleet, and hail.
All clouds contain water vapors. You rarely ever see clouds in the
desert because there is very little water to evaporate and form
clouds. Coastal regions can receive a lot of rain because they pull
up moisture from surrounding waters.
Cloud size are influenced by many complex factors, some of which
we still do not understand very well. These include: heat, seasons,
mountain ranges, bodies of water, volcanic eruptions, and even
global warming.
On Earth, because of air density depending
on temperature, the warm air rises and the
cold air sinks as warm air is less dense
than cold air. That is what we call
Convection is one of the processes that
allows cloud formation. When the sun
shines, the air at the ground level that
contain water vapor is heated and it begins
to rise, and as the air rises, it begins to
cool. Clouds are formed when the humid
air is cooled below a critical temperature :
the water then condenses on tiny
suspended particles and forms droplets in
the atmosphere.
Pressure & Density The amount of force
exerted Over an area of
surface is called
Air pressure!

Air Density is
The number of air
Molecules in a given
Space (volume)
Vertical Pressure Profile

Atmospheric pressure
decreases rapidly with height.
Climbing to an altitude of only
5.5 km where the pressure is
500 mb, would put you above
one-half of the atmosphere’s
1 millibar = 100 pascals

 When air density decreases both engine and

aerodynamic performance decreases. The reason
being is that air molecules are further apart from
each other (thus less air molecules per m3 or ft3).
 A number of factors (altitude/pressure,
temperature and humidity) influence the air
density. A higher altitude, low pressure area,
higher temperature and high humidity all have one
result: they lower the density of the air. And as a
result of that: reduced aircraft performance.
 Air density is perhaps the single most important factor affecting
aircraft performance. It has a direct bearing on:
 The lift generated by the wings — reduction in air density reduces the
wing's lift.
 The power output of the engine — power output depends on oxygen
intake, so the engine output is reduced as the equivalent "dry air"
density decreases and produces even less power as moisture
displaces oxygen in more humid conditions.
 Aircraft taking off from a "hot and high" airport such as the Quito
Airport or Mexico City are at a significant aerodynamic disadvantage.
The following effects result from a density altitude which is higher
than the actual physical altitude:
 The aircraft will accelerate slower on takeoff as a result of reduced
power production. The aircraft will climb slower as the result of
reduced power production and lift.
 Though there are various kinds of pressure, pilots are mainly concerned
with atmospheric pressure. It is one of the basic factors in weather changes,
helps to lift the airplane, and actuate some of the important flight
instruments in the airplane. These instruments are the altimeter, the
airspeed indicator, the rate-of-climb indicator, and the pressure gauge.
 Though air is very light, it has mass and is affected by the attraction of
gravity. Therefore, like any other substance, it has weight, and because of its
weight, it has force. Since it is a fluid substance, this force is exerted equally
in all directions, and its effect on bodies within the air is called pressure.
Under standard conditions at sea level, the average pressure exerted by the
weight of the atmosphere is approximately 14.7 lb./in. The density of air has
significant effects on the airplane’s performance. As air becomes less
dense, it reduces:
 power because the engine takes in less air,
 thrust because the propeller is less efficient in thin air.
Electromagnetic Spectrum
incoming outgoing
1. Shorter, high
Energy wavelengths
Hit the earths

2. Incoming energy
Is converted to heat
3. Longer, infrared
Wavelengths hit
Greenhouse gas
Molecules in the

4. Greenhouse gas
Molecules in the
Atmosphere emit
Infrared radiation
Back towards earth
The “Greenhouse Effect”

 The Earth’s surface thus receives energy

from two sources: the sun & the
– As a result the Earth’s surface is ~33C warmer than it would
be without an atmosphere

Greenhouse gases are transparent to

shortwave but absorb longwave radiation
– Thus the atmosphere stores energy
 The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation
from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric
greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since
part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface, energy is
transferred to the surface and the lower atmosphere. As a
result, the temperature there is higher than it would be if direct
heating by solar radiation were the only warming mechanism
 The warming of the atmosphere by its absorbing and emitting
infrared radiation while allowing shortwave radiation to pass
through. The gases mainly responsible for the earth’s
atmospheric greenhouse effect are water vapor and carbon
 The Earth receives energy from the Sun in the
form UV, visible, and near IR radiation, most of
which passes through the atmosphere without
being absorbed. Of the total amount of energy
available at the top of the atmosphere (TOA),
about 50% is absorbed at the Earth's surface.
Because it is warm, the surface radiates far IR
thermal radiation that consists of wavelengths
that are predominantly much longer than the
wavelengths that were absorbed. Most of this
thermal radiation is absorbed by the
atmosphere and re-radiated both upwards and
downwards; that radiated downwards is
absorbed by the Earth's surface. This trapping of
long-wavelength thermal radiation leads to a
higher equilibrium temperature.
Importance of Human-
produced Greenhouse
This diagram shows the
relative importance of
the major human-
produced greenhouse
gases to current
warming. CO2 is the
most important followed
in descending order by
methane, CFCs, ozone
and nitrous oxide.
 Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases. It consists of
one carbon atom with an oxygen atom bonded to each side.
When its atoms are bonded tightly together, the carbon dioxide
molecule can absorb infrared radiation and the molecule starts
to vibrate. Eventually, the vibrating molecule will emit the
 Carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane,nitorus oxide, and a few
other gases are greenhouse gases. They all are molecules
composed of more than two component atoms, bound loosely
enough together to be able to vibrate with the absorption of
heat. The major components of the atmosphere ( and ) are two-
atom molecules too tightly bound together to vibrate and thus
they do not absorb heat and contribute to the greenhouse
U.S. Greenhouse Gas
Emissions by Sector, 1997
In 1997, different sectors of
the U.S. economy emitted
millions of metric tons of
carbon dioxide. Industry was
the largest contributor,
producing 610 million metric
tons. Transportation emitted
470 million metric tons,
residential 300 million metric
tons, and commercial 280
million metric tons. Agriculture
was also a contributor, with
120 million metric tons of
carbon dioxide emitted.

Bessy and her cow friends

are one of the world's
greatest methane emitters.
Cows exhale methane, which
is a byproduct of the
digestion of their grassy diet.
Ocean Circulation
Cold water sinks at the
poles and travels
throughout the world's
oceans. It gradually warms,
becomes less dense and
mixes to the surface. It then
moves back towards the
poles carrying heat
absorbed along the way.
Then the cycle continues.
Without this cycle the poles
would be colder and the
equator would be warmer.
Land Use Changes
create islands of
heat from
automobiles, and
the absorption of
solar energy by
Volcanic Eruptions
A volcanic eruption may
send ash and sulfuric acid
(SO2) into the atmosphere,
which increases planetary
reflectivity causing
atmospheric cooling. Over
time precipitation will
remove these aerosols from
the atmosphere. Volcanic
eruptions can have a
worldwide impact.
Absorption Spectra of Atmospheric Gases

UV Infrared

N 2O
O2 & O3
H 2O


WAVELENGTH (micrometers)
Anthes, p. 55

 Ozone layer

Intense sunlight in the stratosphere (above 12 km) produces bluish

colored ozone (O3) by naturally breaking down normal oxygen molecules
(O2) into two highly reactive oxygen atoms (O). Each oxygen atom then
quickly bonds with an oxygen molecule to form ozone. Ozone absorbs UV
radiation, and in the process ozone is changed back into an oxygen
molecule and an oxygen atom. A balance exists in ozone destruction and
production, so that an equilibrium concentration exists in the
stratosphere. This equilibrium has probably existed throughout much of
geologic time. Recently, however, an ozone hole has been detected in
the stratosphere over Antarctica, due to the atmospheric build up of
ozone-destroying CFCs by humans. Ozone depletion has resulted in a
greater penetration of ultraviolet radiation on the earth's surface, which
is harmful to life on earth because it damages cellular DNA. The ozone
effect does not appear to have a direct influence on global
 The halide acid HCl has been shown to be
effective in destroying ozone
 Most volcanic HCl is confined to the troposphere
(below the stratosphere), where it is washed out by
rain and Thus, it never has the opportunity to react
with ozone
 satellite data after the 1991 eruptions of
Mt.Pinatubo (the Philippines) and Mt. Hudson
(Chile) showed a 15-20% ozone loss at high
latitudes, and a greater than 50% loss over the
 Eruption-generated particles, or aerosols, appear to
provide surfaces upon which chemical reactions take
 The particles themselves do not contribute to ozone
destruction, but they interact with chlorine- and
bromine-bearing compounds from human-made CFCs.
 Fortunately, volcanic particles will settle out of the
stratosphere in two or three years, so that the effects of
volcanic eruptions on ozone depletion are short lived.
 Although volcanic aerosols provide a catalyst for ozone
depletion, the real culprits in destroying ozone are
human-generated CFCs
 Volcanic eruptions can enhance global warming by adding
CO2 to the atmosphere.
 However, a far greater amount of CO2 is contributed to the
atmosphere by human activities each year than by volcanic
eruptions. T.M.Gerlach (1991, American Geophysical Union)
notes that human-made CO2 exceeds the estimated global
release of CO2 from volcanoes by at least 150 times.
 The small amount of global warming caused by eruption-
generated greenhouse gases is offset by the far greater
amount of global cooling caused by eruption-generated
particles in the stratosphere (the haze effect). Greenhouse
warming of the earth has been particularly evident since

 Suspended particles, such as dust and ash,

can block out the earth's sunlight, thus
reducing solar radiation and lowering mean
global temperatures. The haze effect often
generates exceptionally red sunsets due to the
scattering of red wavelengths by submicron-
size particles in the stratosphere and upper
 Volcanic eruptions enhance the haze effect to a
greater extent than the greenhouse effect, and
thus they can lower mean global temperatures.
 Sulfur combines with water vapor in the
stratosphere to form dense clouds of tiny sulfuric
acid droplets. These droplets take several years to
settle out and they are capable to decreasing the
troposphere temperatures because they absorb
solar radiation and scatter it back to space.
Atmospheric Layers

8 layers are defined by

constant trends in
average air temperature
(which changes with
pressure and radiation),
where the outer
exosphere is not shown.

1. Troposphere
2. Tropopause
3. Stratosphere
4. Stratopause
5. Mesosphere
6. Mesopause
7. Thermosphere
8. Exosphere
 Troposphere
The troposphere starts at the Earth's surface and
extends to about 15 kilometers (9 miles) high. This
part of the atmosphere is the most dense. As you
climb higher in this layer, the temperature drops
from about 17 to -52 degrees Celsius. Almost all
weather is in this region because it is this layer
that contains most of the water vapour. The
tropopause separates the troposphere from the
next layer. The tropopause and the troposphere
are known as the lower atmosphere.
At the very top of the troposphere is the tropopause where the
temperature reaches a (stable) minimum. Some scientists call the
tropopause a "cold trap" because this is a point where rising water
vapour cannot go higher because it changes into ice and is trapped.
If there is no cold trap, Earth would loose all its water!
The uneven heating of the regions of the troposphere by the Sun
causes convection currents and winds. Warm air from Earth's surface
rises and cold air above it rushes in to replace it. When warm air
reaches the tropopause, it cannot go higher as the air above it (in the
stratosphere) is warmer and lighter ... preventing much air convection
beyond the tropopause. The tropopause acts like an invisible barrier
and is the reason why most clouds form and weather phenomena
occur within the troposphere.
Atmospheric Layers

Tropopause separates Troposphere from

Stratosphere. Generally higher in summer
Lower in winter.
Troposphere – Temp decrease w/ height
Most of our weather occurs in this layer
Varies in height around the globe, but
Averages about 11 km in height.
 The stratosphere starts just above the troposphere and
extends to 50 kilometers (31 miles) high. Compared to the
troposphere, this part of the atmosphere is dry and less
dense. The temperature in this region increases gradually to
-3 degrees Celsius, due to the absorbtion of ultraviolet
radiation. The ozone layer, which absorbs and scatters the
solar ultraviolet radiation, is in this layer. Ninety-nine percent
of "air" is located in the troposphere and stratosphere. Ozone
is concentrated around an altitude of 25 kilometers (the
"ozone layer"). The ozone molecules absorb dangerous kinds
of sunlight (UV), which heats the air around them. Since
ozone controls the thermal structure of this layer, it is also
sometimes called the ozonosphere.The stratopause
separates the stratosphere from the next layer.
 Commercial airlines often cruise in the stratosphere, albeit
at its lower reaches. However, airplanes fly due to the lift
created by air flowing over/under their wings. An airplane's
engines provide thrust, which move its wings through the air
(i.e., increases the flow of air over/under the wings). Once
the lift thus created by this airflow exceeds the airplane's
weight, the airplane climbs into the air.
At higher altitudes, there is less air. So, more thrust is
required in order for the wing to create enough airflow and
lift to keep the airplane flying. A practical altitude limit is
reached when the airplane's engines cannot provide enough
thrust and/or its wings cannot produce enough lift in order to
offset the airplane's weight.
Atmospheric Layers

Temperature inversion in stratosphere
Ozone plays a major part in heating the air
At this altitude
The thin ozone layer in the upper stratosphere has a
high concentration of ozone, a particularly reactive form
of oxygen. This layer is primarily responsible for
absorbing the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. The
formation of this layer is a delicate matter, since only
when oxygen is produced in the atmosphere can an
ozone layer form and prevent an intense flux of
ultraviolet radiation from reaching the surface, where it
is quite hazardous to the evolution of life. There is
considerable recent concern that manmade
flourocarbon compounds may be depleting the ozone
layer, with dire future consequences for life on the
 The mesosphere starts just above the stratosphere and
extends to 85 kilometers (53 miles) high. In this region, the
temperatures again fall as low as -93 degrees Celsius as you
increase in altitude. The chemicals are in an excited state, as
they absorb energy from the Sun. The mesopause separates
the mesophere from the thermosphere.
 The regions of the stratosphere and the mesosphere, along
with the stratopause and mesopause, are called the middle
atmosphere by scientists. This area has been closely studied
on the ATLAS Spacelab mission series.
 The mesosphere has thin air, and in thin air the molecules
are spaced far apart. There are not enough molecules to
collide with each other
 Within the mesosphere, temperature decreases with increasing
altitude. This is due to decreasing solar heating and increasing
cooling by CO2 radiative emission. The top of the mesosphere,
called the mesopause, is the coldest part of Earth‘s atmosphere.
Temperatures in the upper mesosphere fall as low as −100 °C
 It is cold enough to freeze water vapor into ice clouds. You can see
these clouds if sunlight hits them after sunset. They are called
Noctilucent Clouds (NLC). The mesosphere is also the layer in
which a lot of meteors burn up while entering the Earth's
atmosphere. From the Earth they are seen as shooting stars.
Within the mesosphere most of them vaporize as a result of
collisions with the gas particles contained there
Atmospheric Layers

Middle atmosphere – Air thin, pressure
Need oxygen to live in this region. Air
quite Cold -90°C (-130°F) near the top of

Figure 1.7
 The thermosphere starts just above the mesosphere and
extends to 600 kilometers (372 miles) high. The temperatures
go up as you increase in altitude due to the Sun's energy.
Temperatures in this region can go as high as 1,727 degrees
Celsius. Chemical reactions occur much faster here than on the
surface of the Earth. This layer is known as the upper
 The upper and lower layers of the thermosphere has been be
studied more closely during the Tethered Satellite Mission (TSS-
 It is so hot here gases in the atmosphere absorb a lot of
radiation from space and convert it to heat.
 Unlike in the stratosphere, where the inversion is
caused by absorption of radiation by ozone, in the
thermosphere the inversion is a result of the
extremely low density of molecules. The
temperature of this layer can rise to 1,500 °C
(2,700 °F), though the gas molecules are so far
apart that temperature in the usual sense is not
well defined. The air is so rarefied, that an
individual molecule (of oxygen, for example) travels
an average of 1 kilometer between collisions with
other molecules. The International Space Station
orbits in this layer, between 320 and 380 km .
 The atoms and molecules of gases such as
oxygen and nitrogen present in this layer
absorb the high-energy short-wave radiation
from the sun and get ionized. The ionized layer
by reflecting radio waves helps in global
telecommunication. For this reason, this layer
is also sometimes called the ionosphere.
 The temperature of the thermosphere varies
greatly with solar activity, with a value of about
2000K at the time of ‘active sun’ and 500K at
the time of ‘quiet sun’ at 500 km altitude
(Banks and Kockarts (1973). Because of the
large variationin the thermal structure of the
thermosphere with active and quiet sun, this
part of the thermosphere is often called the
heterosphere. Above the heterosphere lies the
Atmospheric Layers

“Hot layer” – oxygen molecules
absorb energy from solar Rays
warming the air. Very few atoms and
molecules in this Region.

Figure 1.7
The ionosphere starts at about 43-50 miles (70-80 km) high and
continues for hundreds of miles (about 400 miles = 640 km.
At heights of 80 km (50 miles), The gas becomes increasingly
rarefied at higher altitudes and the gas is so thin that free electrons
can exist for short periods of time before they are captured by a
nearby positive ion.
The existence of charged particles at this altitude and above, signals
the beginning of the ionosphere, a region having the properties of a
gas and of a plasma.
It contains many ions and free electrons (plasma). The ions are
created when sunlight hits atoms and tears off some electrons.
Auroras occur in the ionosphere. It has practical importance
because, among other functions, it influences radio propagation to
distant places on the Earth
 At the outer reaches of the Earth's environment, solar
radiation strikes the atmosphere with a power density of
1370 Watts per m^ 2 or 0.137 Watts per m^ 2, a value
known as the "solar constant." This intense level of
radiation is spread over a broad spectrum ranging from
radio frequencies through infrared (IR) radiation and
visible light to X-rays. Solar radiation at ultraviolet (UV)
and shorter wavelengths is considered to be "ionizing"
since photons of energy at these frequencies are
capable of dislodging an electron from a neutral gas
atom or molecule during a collision. Incoming solar
radiation is incident on a gas atom (or molecule).
At the highest levels of the Earth's outer atmosphere, solar radiation is very strong but there are few
atoms to interact with, so ionization is small. As the altitude decreases, more gas atoms are present so
the ionization process increases. At the same time, however, an opposing process called recombination
begins to take place in which a free electron is "captured" by a positive ion if it moves close enough to
it. As the gas density increases at lower altitudes, the recombination process accelerates since the gas
molecules and ions are closer together. The point of balance between these two processes determines
the degree of "ionization" present at any given time.

At still lower altitudes, the number of gas atoms (and molecules) increases further and there is more
opportunity for absorption of energy from a photon of UV solar radiation. However, the intensity of
this radiation is smaller at these lower altitudes because some of it was absorbed at the higher levels. A
point is reached, therefore, where lower radiation, greater gas density and greater recombination rates
balance out and the ionization rate begins to decrease with decreasing altitude

Because the composition of the atmosphere changes with height, the ion production rate
changes and this leads to the formation of several distinct ionization peaks, the "D," "E," "F1,"
and "F2" layers.
 Since the ionosphere's
existence is due to
radiation from the sun
striking the atmosphere, it
changes in density from
daytime to nighttime. All
three layers are more
dense during the daytime.
At night, all layers decrease
in density with the D-Layer
undergoing the greatest
change. At night the D-
Layer essentially

The E-layer was discovered first. In 1901,

Guglielmo Marconi transmitted a signal
between Europe and North America and
showed that it had to bounce off an electrically
conducting layer about 62 miles (100 km)
altitude. In 1927, Sir Edward Appleton named
that conducting layer the (E)lectrical-Layer.
Additional conducting layers discovered later
were simply called the D-layer and F-Layer.
 The D layer is the innermost layer, 60 km to 90 km above the surface of the Earth.
Ionization here is due to the radiations of wavelength of 121.5 nanometre (nm)
ionizing nitric oxide (NO)
 Recombination is high in the D layer, the net ionization effect is low, but loss of wave
energy is great due to frequent collisions of the electrons (about ten collisions every
 high-frequency (HF) radio waves are not reflected by the D layer but suffer loss of
energy therein.
 At Frequency 10 MHz and below is the main reason for absorption of HF radio
waves, and smaller absorption as the frequency gets higher.
 The absorption is small at night and greatest about midday.
 The layer reduces greatly after sunset; a small part remains due to galactic cosmic
 A common example of the D layer in action is the disappearance of distant AM
broadcast band stations in the daytime. AM transmissions cannot be ionospherically
propagated during the day due to strong absorption in the D-layer of the ionosphere.
During the night, this absorption largely disappears and permits signals to travel to
much more distant locations via ionospheric reflections. However, fading of the
signal can be severe at night.
 Low frequencies ( below 10MHz) absorbed -
high frequencies pass through
 More ionized = more radio wave absorption

 Maximum usable frequency ( highest frequency

that can be refracted) : 16 MHz
 Most abundant molecule present: O3
The E layer is the middle layer, 90 km to 120 km above
the surface of the Earth. Ionization is due to X-ray and
far ultraviolet (UV) solar radiation ionization of molecular
oxygen (O2). Normally, at oblique incidence, this layer
can only reflect radio waves having frequencies lower
than about 10 MHz and may contribute a bit to
absorption on frequencies above.
However, during intense Sporadic E events, the Es layer
can reflect frequencies up to 50 MHz and higher. The l
structure of the E layer is primarily determined by the
competing effects of ionization and recombination. At
night the E layer rapidly disappears because the primary
source of ionization is no longer present.
 Ionized gas
 Reflects medium frequency waves
 Day- solar wind presses this layer closer to the Earth
limiting distance radio waves can be reflected
 Night - solar wind drags the ionosphere further away,
increasing the range of radio waves
 Season and sunspot activity also influence reflection
 Refracts radio signals and causes them to skip
back to earth
 Weakest at night - radio signals pass right
 Maximum usable frequency : 28 MHz
 Most abundant molecule: O2
 Few seasonal or daily differences for
 The F layer or region, also known as the Appleton layer
extends from about 200 km to more than 500 km above
the surface of Earth. It is the densest point of the
ionosphere, which implies signals penetrating this layer
will escape into space. Beyond this layer is the topside
ionosphere. Here extreme ultraviolet (UV, 10–100 nm)
solar radiation ionizes atomic oxygen. The F layer
consists of one layer at night, but during the day, a
deformation often forms in the profile that is labeled F1.
The F2 layer remains by day and night responsible for
propagation of radio waves, facilitating high frequency
(HF, or shortwave) radio communications over long

 Because the F1 region is not always present and often

merges with the F2 region, it is not normally considered
when examining possible modes of propagation.

 At certain times during the solar cycle the F1 region may not
be distinct from the F2 region with the two merging to form
an F region. At night the D, E and F1 regions become very
much depleted of free electrons, leaving only the F2 region
available for communications..
 Ionized all night
 Low frequencies ( 10-15MHz) are refracted back to
earth at night
 Maximum usable frequency : 16 MHz
 Most abundant molecules present: Nitrogen in F1 sub
layer and Oxygen in F2 sub layer.
 As seen around the 1900's, the ionosphere has the important quality of bouncing
radio signals transmitted from the earth. Its existence is why places all over the
world can be reached via radio. As the radio signal is transmitted, some of the signal
will escape the earth through the ionosphere (green arrow). The ground wave (purple
arrow) is the direct signal we hear on a normal basis. This wave weakens quickly and
is what one hears as a fading signal.

 The remaining waves (red and blue arrows) are called "skywaves." These waves
bounce off the ionosphere and can bounce for many 1000's of miles depending
upon the atmospheric conditions.
 D layer disappears at night- low frequencies can now be used
 E Layer weak at night
 F sublayers combine into one layer at night
 Sunspots can increase the ionosphere’s ability to refract high frequency radio waves
 Solar flares can increase the amount of radio wave absorption, thus hurting radio
The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite
(UARS) was a NASA-operated orbital
observatory whose mission was to study the
Earth’s atmosphere, particularly the
protective ozone layer. The 5 900 kg (13,000-
lb) satellite was deployed from Space Shuttle
Discovery during the STS-48 mission on
September 15, 1991. It entered orbit at an
operational altitude of 600 kilometres
(370 mi), with an orbital inclination of 57
The original mission duration was to be only
three years, but was extended several times.
When the mission ended in June 2005 due
to funding cuts, 14 years after the satellite's
launch, six of its ten instruments were still
 Surface measurements of ozone have been made in six major cities of
Pakistan using ground based ozone analyzer ML-8810. In recent years,
concerns over the concentration of surface ozone have increased mainly
due to the finding that the surface ozone concentration in rural /urban
areas has increased during the past few years. Injury to the most sensitive
species can occur after exposure to 60-µg/m3 (30.58 ppb) (for every 1
million particles of air (which is a mixture), there are 350 particles of
Ozone.) ozone for 8 hours. Ozone has shown reducing resistance to disease
in laboratory animals. In humans, eye irritation and an increased number of
asthmatic attacks, and improper performances of athletes have all been
attributed to photochemical oxidant levels around 200 ug/m3 (101.93 ppb).
Most of the ozone in the troposphere (lower sphere) is formed indirectly by
the action of sunlight on nitrogen dioxide. In addition to ozone (O3)
photochemical reactions produced a number of oxidants including
peroxyacetyl Nitrates (PAN), nitric acid and hydrogen per oxide. The surface
ozone ranges from 6-40 ppb at Karachi, 8.5-44 ppb at Lahore, 6-32 ppb at
Islamabad, 11-24 ppb at Quetta, 3-33 ppb at Rawalpindi and 4-46 ppb at
 The giant earthquake that struck Japan not only shook the Earth, but also
rattled the highest layer of the atmosphere, scientists find.
 This research could lead to a new type of early warning system for
destructive tsunamis and earthquakes.
 The magnitude 9 quake that struck off the coast of Tohoku in Japan in
March unleashed a catastrophic tsunami, ushered in what might be the
world's first complex megadisaster and set off microquakes and tremors
around the globe.
 Past research revealed the surface motions and tsunamis that earthquakes
generate can also trigger waves in the atmosphere. These waves can reach
all the way to the ionosphere, one of the highest layers of the atmosphere.
 Now scientists report the Tohoku quake generated the largest such
disturbances seen yet, creating ripples in electrically charged particles
reaching nearly 220 miles (350 kilometers) above the Earth.
 Scientists detected a disc-shaped rise in electron
density in the ionosphere about seven minutes after the
earthquake. Concentric waves of fluctuating electron
density then flowed out in the ionosphere from this disk
at speeds of about 450 to 500 mph (720 to 800 kph).
All in all, this disruption was about three times greater
than the next largest one ever seen, which came after
the 2004 magnitude 9.3 Sumatra earthquake.
 The ripples that flowed from the initial disc-shaped
disturbance in the ionosphere appear to be linked to the
tsunami, a connection that has the potential to save

 An upper layer of Earth's atmosphere recently shrank so

much that researchers are at a loss to adequately
explain it. The thermosphere, which blocks harmful
ultraviolet rays, expands and contracts regularly due to
the sun's activities. As carbon dioxide increases, it has a
cooling effect at such high altitudes, which also
contributes to the contraction.
 But even these two factors aren't fully explaining the
extraordinary contraction which, though unlikely to
affect the weather, can affect the movement of
satellites, researchers said.
 Carbon dioxide acts as a coolant in the upper atmosphere, unlike in the
lower atmosphere, shedding heat via infrared radiation. As carbon dioxide
levels build up on Earth, it makes its way into the upper levels and magnifies
the cooling action of the solar minimum.
 "It's not going to affect the weather, or you won't be able to tell that this is
going on by looking at the sky. It's not going to look any darker,”.
 But the contraction of the thermosphere can affect the drag on satellites
and space junk orbiting at those levels.
 "Debris that's up there stays up longer. The amount of orbital debris is a
concern for space navigation. There is concern that space debris is building
up," Emmert said.
 The abnormal change in the thermosphere may also affect other layers of
the atmosphere, and though less certain, can result in slight disruptions of
satellite communications, including global-positioning system signals,
Solomon said.