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thin, gaseous envelope of gases
99% lies within 30 km of earth's surface
No definite upper limit
protects us from UV rays

Sun radiation

Drives weather patterns, average temperature

What is the atmosphere composed of?

99% permanent gases and 1% variable gases

Permanent gases

constant concentration with time & space.

Variable gases

varying concentration depending upon where/when you are. All weather and climate are associated this.

Atmosphere composition

Permanent gases:Nitrogen 78%, Oxygen 21%
Variable gases: Water vapor (H2O), Carbon dioxide (CO2),
Ozone (O3), Aerosols & Pollutants

Variable gas - Water Vapor

More vapor in warmer locations, less in colder
Only substance that exists in 3 phases near the surface, Phase changes (condensation) form clouds and drive weather
Greenhouse gas - absorbs earth's radiation to keep the surface warm

Variable gas - Carbon Dioxide

Greenhouse gas
Increasing CO2 causes warming

Carbon Dioxide Sources

Decay of plants
Volcanic eruptions
Exhalation of animals
Burning fossil fuels

Carbon Dioxide Sinks


Why is Ozone high in the atmosphere a good thing?

blocks out harmful UV rays, and is formed naturally. When it is low it create photochemical smog (created by humans)

What causes an Ozone hole?

1) CFC's breaking down into chlorine in the presence of UV radiation then
2) the chlorine reacts with ozone resulting in ozone destruction

Variable components - Aerosol

tiny solid or liquid particles
Important for cloud formation

Variable component - Pollutants

products from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels react with sunlight to form smog and acid rain

Vertical Structure of Atmos

Atmosphere has no definite top, rather thinning out gradually.
Changes in atmospheric properties describe vertical structure.
Vertical structure determines weather and climate.

Where is atmosphere most crowded and most dense?

Most of atmosphere is crowded near the surface
More dense closer to the surface, with density decreasing rapidly with height


the amount of matter (mass) in a given space (volume)
Densit= Mass/ Volume

Air pressure

is a measure of the weight of a column or air over an area. It is defined as force divided by the area


Layer structures

Lapse rate, Isothermal environment, Inversion layer

Lapse rate

rate at which the troposphere cools as you move up in elevation.

Isothermal environment

no change in temperature with height

Inversion layer

change in the sign of the lapse rate (increase)

Vertical profile temperature

Thermosphere, Mesosphere, Stratosphere, Troposphere


increase in temperature, suns strongest radiation (75 miles)

Mesosphere (mesopause)

decrease in temperature (53 miles)

Stratosphere (stratopause)

increase in temperature, ozone, (31 miles)

Troposphere (Tropopause)

decrease in temperature, day to day weather. All weather occurs here Strong turbulent mixing forced by surface heating. (7 miles)


is the current state of the atmosphere at a specific time and place. This constantly changes because of temperature, precipitation, pressure, visibility, humidity, winds.


is the average weather at a particular location. Accumulation of daily and seasonal weather events over a long period. This happens very slow.

Reasons to study weather patterns

Economic efficiency and public safety

What is the primary source of energy for the earth's

Radiant energy

List the four most abundant gases in today's atmosphere.

Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide, oxygen, Water vapor

Of the four most abundant gases in our atmosphere,
which one shows the greatest variation at the earth's surface?


What are some of the important roles that water plays in our atmosphere?

It absorbs CO2, It plays an important role in the heat energy balance. 1) helps transformation from gas to liquid help form latent heat (this an important source for Atmospheric energy), 2) It is also a green house that absorbs the earths out going radiant energy,

Potential energy equation

M= Mass
G= acceleration of gravity
H= Height above the ground

Kinetic energy

KE= (1/2)mv^2
M= mass
V= velocity= distance divided by time

Fahrenheit to Celsius


Celsius to farenheit

5/9(C)+32= F

Fahrenheit to kelvin

Convert to Celsius, add 273 degrees

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