The Atmosphere: Composition, Structure, and Size, Develop an understanding of the size, composition, and structure of the atmosphere.

The Atmosphere: Composition, Structure, and Size

The atmosphere is the gaseous layer surrounding the Earth, composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases (U.S Environmental Protection Agency, 2020). It is divided into five distinct layers (National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, 2019). The first layer is the troposphere, which extends from the Earth’s surface up to 8-14 km and is where most weather occurs. The second layer is the stratosphere, which begins at the tropopause and extends up to 50 km. This layer contains the ozone layer, which absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The third layer is the mesosphere, which extends from 50 to 85 km above the Earth’s surface. This layer is where meteors burn up as they enter the atmosphere. The fourth layer is the thermosphere, which extends from 85-600 km above the Earth’s surface. This layer is where the aurora borealis occurs. The fifth layer is the exosphere, which extends from 600-10,000 km above the Earth’s surface. This layer contains the uppermost layers of the atmosphere and is where most satellites orbit the Earth. The atmosphere has a mass of 5.15 x 10^18 kg and a surface area of 510 million square kilometres (National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, 2019). Cont…

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