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The atmosphere is a term used to describe the mixture of different gasses that surrounds Earth. These gases consist predominantly of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, and water vapour. Most people believe the atmosphere is thick. However, it’s fragile. The two most essential service functions of the atmosphere are storage and life protecting.

Service functions

  • Storage service for oxygen and carbon dioxide that are essential for the biosphere
  • Protection of life from solar radiation

The five reservoirs included in the Earth system

The atmosphere is one of the five reservoirs included in the Earth system; the four others are Geosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere and the Anthroposphere; finally, the outermost atmosphere layer is the boundary of the Earth system and separates us from other objects in space. The atmosphere consists of a set of sheets of which the first and closest to Earth is troposphere (sea level-11.000 metres). The layer nearest the Earth’s surface, rising from sea level to about 6 miles (11 km), is the troposphere. The primary heat source for the troposphere is infrared energy (heat) that radiates from Earth’s surface.

The next levels are called the stratosphere, rises from 11 km (11.000 metres) to 45 km (45.500 metres) the layer is heated by the sun’s UV rays and with increasing proximity to the sun it gets warmer. The Stratosphere is also a host for the ozone layer measured between 15-30 km from Earth’s surface. It is the layer despite all the space it takes in media coverage it relatively small (the measurement of 12 ozone molecules for every billion air molecules). It is one of the reasons the stratosphere warms with altitude. Last two layers of the atmosphere are the mesosphere and thermosphere.

The layers of the atmosphere

Sources and recommended reading
  • Atmosphere by Dana Desonie. Published in 2007 by Chelsea House books

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