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What is one of the most vital things that all living creatures need in order to survive? Water is definitely one, food another and being able to reproduce is yet another. However, none of these would help us if living things couldn’t breathe. We need oxygen to be able to breathe. Oxygen that is found in the air. It is the Earth’s air that allows for life on Earth. This air is also known as atmosphere.
The study of the Earth’s atmosphere and weather patterns is known as meteorology. Those who study these two Earth Science areas are known as meteorologists.
The atmosphere is composed of a group of gases. These gases are made up of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% of a number of other gases including argon, carbon dioxide and helium. The atmosphere is really a very thin layer that surrounds Earth and is kept in place by the gravitational pull of the Earth. The atmosphere protects the Earth from the harmful rays of the sun and it acts rather like a blanket by keeping the surface of the planet warm.
The atmosphere is then divided into four main layers. These layers include the following:
Layers of the Atmosphere:
The aurora borealis is often referred to as the “Northern Lights” and on some occasions the “Southern Lights.” This light show phenomenon occurs when particles from the sun enter into the Ionosphere near either the North Pole or the South Pole. When the particles strike oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the Ionosphere, their impact emits a glow in the sky.
The Exosphere is the upper or outer level of the Thermosphere. It is in this layer where television, as well as telephone and satellites are sent to orbit the Earth.
The Thermosphere does not have a definite outer limit meaning that it doesn’t just suddenly end but rather extends outward into space. It extends above the Earth’s surface for upwards of 621 miles but then thins out so its actual end is unknown. The Space Shuttles and the Space Station orbit the Earth in the Thermosphere.
Now whenever you look upward, you’ll have a little more understanding what’s up there. It also gives you an appreciation of the importance of each layer of our atmosphere.
Feeling confident? If so, take a look at the following ten questions about the atmosphere and see just how many you can get right without having to take a look back at this introduction.