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1 – Earth’s Atmosphere
What is Atmosphere?
 A thin layer of air that protects the Earth’s surface from
extreme temperatures and harmful Sun rays.
What is the Atmosphere made of?
 A mixture of gases, solids, and liquids
 Earth’s early atmosphere was much different than
 Volcanoes produced nitrogen and carbon dioxide, but
little oxygen.
 More than 2 billion years ago simple organisms
(cyanobacteria) began producing oxygen.
 Eventually oxygen formed an ozone layer that protected
Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun.
 Green plants and diverse life forms developed due to the
ozone layer and the protection it gave from the harsh Sun
Atmospheric Make-up Continued
 Atmospheric gases include:
 Nitrogen – 78%
 Oxygen – 21%
 Carbon Dioxide - .03%
 Water Vapor – 0-4%
 Argon – 0.93%
 The atmosphere is changing with the introduction of
pollutants: increasing human energy use is increasing the
amount of Carbon Dioxide.
 Pollutants mix with oxygen and other chemicals to form
Atmospheric Make-up Continued
 The solids that make up the atmosphere include:
 Dust
 Salt
 Pollen
 The liquids that make up the atmosphere include:
 Water droplets
 Droplets from volcanoes
Layers of the Atmosphere
 5 main layers of the atmosphere:
 Low Layers
 Troposphere – Lowest layer, where we live. Extends about 10 km
up and contains most of the water vapor and gases.
 Stratosphere – Extends from 10 km to 50 km and contains the
ozone layer.
 Upper Layers
 Mesosphere – Extends from 50-85 km and is where meteors are
 Ionosphere – Between the meso- and thermosphere. Has charged
particles that can help carry radio waves.
 Thermosphere – Extends from 85-500 km and is the thickest
layer. Has high temperatures.
 Exosphere – Outer layers where the space shuttle flies and has
very few molecules.
Atmospheric Pressure
 Molecules closer to the
surface are more densely
packed (at higher
pressure) than those
higher in the atmosphere
because of the mass of
gases pressing down
from higher in the
Temperature in the Layers
 The troposphere is warmed primarily by the Earth’s
surface; temperature decreases as altitude increases in
this layer.

 Temperature increase as altitude increases in the

stratosphere, particularly the upper portion because
ozone absorbs energy from the Sun.

 Temperatures decrease with altitude in the mesosphere.

 Thermosphere and exosphere are the first to receive the

Sun’s rays, so they are very warm.
A closer look at the Ozone Layer
 About 19-48 km above Earth in the stratosphere, this
layer of 3-atom oxygen molecules (O3) protects the Earth
from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.
 Life on Earth depends on it.
 Pollutants called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are
destroying the ozone layer.
 CFCs are using in refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosol sprays,
and foam packaging.
 If these products develop a leak, CFCs can enter the atmosphere.
 The ozone layer has a large hole over Antarctica 10.6
million square miles wide.
The End…
any questions?