How the Atmosphere Protects the Earth
Apr 24, †Ј The atmosphere protects the Earth from the vacuum. The gasses and pressure of the atmosphere allow living organisms to breathe. The atmosphere also prevents water from vaporizing into space. Without the atmosphere, there would be no life on the Earth. Aug 04, †Ј EarthТs atmosphere protects life on the surface by filtering deadly ultraviolet radiation, destroying most meteors that pass through it and retaining heat. The atmosphere also provides oxygen to humans and carbon dioxide to plants. The atmosphere consists of five layers and is approximately 60 miles thick. The layer closest to the surface is called the troposphere, and it .
We are most aware of air when it moves and creates wind. All living things need some of the gases in air for life support. Without an atmosphere, Earth would likely be just another lifeless rock. Much of what makes Earth exceptional depends on the atmosphere. Atmospheric gases, especially carbon dioxide CO 2 and oxygen O 2are extremely important for living organisms.
How does the atmosphere make life possible? How does life alter the atmosphere? In photosynthesis plants use CO 2 and create O 2. Photosynthesis is responsible for nearly all of the oxygen currently found in the atmosphere.
By creating oxygen and food, plants have made an environment that is favorable for animals. In respiration, animals use oxygen to convert sugar into food energy they can use.
Plants also go through respiration and consume some of the sugars they produce. Some of what is in the atmosphere is not gas. Particles of dust, soil, fecal matter, metals, salt, smoke, ash, and other solids make up a small percentage of the atmosphere.
Particles provide starting points or nuclei for water vapor to condense on and form raindrops. Some particles are pollutants, which are discussed in the Human Actions and the Atmosphere chapter. At higher altitudes the atmospheric pressure is lower and the air is less dense than at higher altitudes. Gas molecules are found inside and outside your ears. When you change altitude quickly, like when an airplane is descending, your inner ear keeps the density of molecules at the original altitude.
Eventually the air molecules inside your ear suddenly move through a small tube in your ear to equalize the pressure. This sudden rush of air is felt as a popping sensation. Although the density of the atmosphere changes with altitude, the composition stays the same with altitude, with one exception. In the ozone layer, at about 20 km to 40 km above the surface, there is a greater concentration of ozone molecules than in other portions of the atmosphere.
By understanding the way temperature changes with altitude, we can learn a lot about how the atmosphere works. While weather takes place in the lower atmosphere, what does the atmosphere do for the earth things, such as the beautiful aurora, happen higher in the atmosphere. Why does warm air rise? Gas molecules are able to move freely and if they are uncontained, as they are in the atmosphere, they can take up more or less space.
Warmer, lighter air is more buoyant than the cooler air above it, so it rises. The cooler air then sinks down, because it is denser than the air beneath it. This is convection, which was described in the Plate Tectonics chapter. The property that changes the beaufort sea is what direction from alaska strikingly with altitude is air temperature.
Unlike the change in pressure and density, which decrease with altitude, changes in air temperature are not regular. A change in temperature with distance is called a temperature gradient.
The temperature gradient of each layer is different. In some layers, temperature increases with altitude and in others it decreases.
The temperature gradient in each layer is determined by the heat source of the layer. Most of the important processes of the atmosphere take place in the lowest two layers: the troposphere and the stratosphere. Sometimes there is a temperature inversionair temperature in the troposphere increases with altitude how to get a body like bella thorne warm air sits over cold air.
Inversions are very stable and may last for several days or even weeks. They form:. Because of this, the ozone layer protects life on Earth. High-energy UV light penetrates cells and damages DNA, leading to cell death which we know as a bad sunburn. Organisms on Earth are not adapted to heavy What goes into a greek salad exposure, which kills or damages them.
The mesosphere is extremely cold, especially at its top, about degrees C degrees F. The air in the mesosphere has extremely low density: As a result, air pressure is very low. A person traveling through the mesosphere would experience severe burns from ultraviolet light since the ozone layer which provides UV protection is in the stratosphere below.
There would be almost no oxygen for breathing. When massive solar storms cause the Van Allen belts to become overloaded with particles, the result is the most spectacular feature of the ionosphere Ч the aurora. The particles spiral along how to get into iim through gmat field lines toward the poles. The charged particles energize oxygen and nitrogen gas molecules, causing them to light up. Each gas emits a particular color of light.
There is no real outer limit to the exospherethe outermost layer of the atmosphere; the gas molecules finally become so scarce that at some point there are no more. Beyond the atmosphere is the solar wind. The solar wind is made of high-speed particles, mostly protons and electrons, traveling rapidly outward from the Sun.
Can you think of some objects that appear to radiate visible light, but actually do not? The moon and the planets do not emit light of their own; they reflect the light of the Sun.
Reflection is when light or another wave bounces back from a surface. Albedo is a measure of how well a surface reflects light. A surface with high albedo reflects a large percentage of light. A snow field has high albedo. One important fact to remember is that energy cannot be created or destroyed Ч it can only be changed from one form to another. This is such a fundamental fact of nature that it is a law: the law of conservation of energy.
In photosynthesis, for example, plants convert solar energy into chemical energy that they can use. They do not create new energy. When energy is transformed, some nearly always becomes heat. Heat transfers between materials easily, from warmer objects to cooler ones. If no more heat is added, eventually all of a material will reach the same temperature. Which has higher heat and which has higher temperature: a candle flame or a bathtub full of hot water?
HEAT Heat is taken in or released when an object changes state, or changes from a gas to a liquid, or a liquid to a solid. This heat is called latent heat. When a substance changes state, latent heat is released or absorbed. A substance that is changing its state of matter does not change temperature. For example, imagine a pot of boiling water on a stove burner: that water is at degrees C degrees F. If you increase the temperature of the burner, more heat enters the water.
The water remains at its boiling temperature, but the additional energy goes into changing the water from liquid to gas. With more heat the water evaporates more rapidly. When water changes from a liquid to a gas it takes in heat. Since evaporation takes in heat, this is called evaporative cooling. How to make oscorp biocable cooling is an inexpensive way to cool homes in hot, dry areas. Substances also differ in their specific heatthe amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of the material by 1.
Water has a very high specific heat, which means it takes a lot of energy to change the temperature of water. If you are walking barefoot on a sunny day, which would you rather walk across, the shallow puddle or an asphalt parking lot?
Because of its high specific heat, the water stays cooler than the asphalt, even though it receives the same amount of solar radiation. The earth constantly tries to maintain an energy balance with the atmosphere.
When viewed together, all of the wavelengths of visible light appear white. But a prism or water droplets can break the white light into different wavelengths so that separate colors appear. Of the solar energy that reaches the outer atmosphere, UV wavelengths have the greatest energy. Only about 7 percent of solar radiation is in the UV wavelengths. The three types are:. The remaining solar radiation is the longest wavelength, infrared.
Most objects radiate infrared energy, which we feel as heat. Some of the wavelengths of solar radiation traveling through the atmosphere may be lost because they are absorbed by various gases.
Oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor also filter out some wavelengths. Heat moves in the atmosphere the same way it moves through the what is xps file type Earth Plate Tectonics chapter or another medium.
What follows is a review of the way what does the atmosphere do for the earth flows and is transferred, but applied to the atmosphere. Radiation is the transfer of energy between two objects by electromagnetic waves. Heat radiates from the ground into the lower atmosphere. In conductionheat moves from areas of more heat to areas of less heat by direct contact.
What is EarthТs atmosphere?
Bound to the Earth by gravity, most of the atmosphere spins along with it as a result of friction with the ground and the viscosity or СstickinessТ of the different layers of air above it. Above km, however, the incredibly thin atmosphere actually spins faster than the loveescorten.com: Robert Matthews.
The global average atmospheric carbon dioxide in was Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past , years.
Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations CO 2 in parts per million ppm for the past , years. The peaks and valleys track ice ages low CO 2 and warmer interglacials higher CO 2. During these cycles, CO 2 was never higher than ppm. On the geologic time scale, the increase orange dashed line looks virtually instantaneous. An earlier version of this image had an error in the scaling on the X axis.
This affected the apparent duration and timing of the most recent ice ages, but did not affect the modern or paleoclimate carbon dioxide values.
Carbon dioxide concentrations are rising mostly because of the fossil fuels that people are burning for energy. Fossil fuels like coal and oil contain carbon that plants pulled out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis over the span of many millions of years; we are returning that carbon to the atmosphere in just a few hundred years.
Global atmospheric carbon dioxide was That is an increase of 2. In the s, the global growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide was roughly 0. Between , however, the growth rate has been 2. The annual rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past 60 years is about times faster than previous natural increases, such as those that occurred at the end of the last ice age 11,, years ago. Squeeze or stretch the graph in either direction by holding the Shift key while you click and drag.
The bright red line source data shows monthly average carbon dioxide at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawai'i in parts per million ppm : the number of carbon dioxide molecules per million molecules of dry air.
Over the course of the year, values are higher in Northern Hemisphere winter and lower in summer. The dark red line shows the annual trend, calculated as a month rolling average. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas : a gas that absorbs and radiates heat. Unlike oxygen or nitrogen which make up most of our atmosphere , greenhouse gases absorb that heat and release it gradually over time, like bricks in a fireplace after the fire goes out.
But increases in greenhouse gases have tipped the Earth's energy budget out of balance, trapping additional heat and raising Earth's average temperature. And while carbon dioxide is less abundant and less powerful than water vapor on a molecule per molecule basis, it absorbs wavelengths of thermal energy that water vapor does not, which means it adds to the greenhouse effect in a unique way. Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are responsible for about two-thirds of the total energy imbalance that is causing Earth's temperature to rise.
This graph shows the heating imbalance in watts per square meter relative to the year caused by all major human-produced greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons 11 and 12, and a group of 15 other minor contributors. Today's atmosphere absorbs about 3 extra watts of incoming solar energy over each square meter of Earth's surface.
Another reason carbon dioxide is important in the Earth system is that it dissolves into the ocean like the fizz in a can of soda. It reacts with water molecules, producing carbonic acid and lowering the ocean's pH.
Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the pH of the ocean's surface waters has dropped from 8. This drop in pH is called ocean acidification. A drop of 0. A change of 0. Increasing acidity interferes with the ability of marine life to extract calcium from the water to build their shells and skeletons.
That little bit of extra sunlight caused a little bit of warming. As the oceans warmed, they outgassed carbon dioxideЧlike a can of soda going flat in the heat of a summer day.
The extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere amplified the initial warming. Based on air bubbles trapped in mile-thick ice cores and other paleoclimate evidence , we know that during the ice age cycles of the past million years or so, carbon dioxide never exceeded ppm. Before the Industrial Revolution started in the mids, the global average amount of carbon dioxide was about ppm.
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere raspberry line has increased along with human emissions blue line since the start of the Industrial Revolution in Emissions rose slowly to about 5 billion tons a year in the mid th century before skyrocketing to more than 35 billion tons per year by the end of the century.
NOAA Climate. By the time continuous observations began at Mauna Loa Volcanic Observatory in , global atmospheric carbon dioxide was already ppm. On May 9, , the daily average carbon dioxide measured at Mauna Loa surpassed ppm for the first time on record. Less than two years later, in , the global amount went over ppm for the first time. If global energy demand continues to grow and to be met mostly with fossil fuels, atmospheric carbon dioxide is projected to exceed ppm by the end of this century.
Carbon dioxide emissions by country over time. Comparing greenhouse gases by their global warming potential. Collins, M. Knutti, J. Arblaster, J. Dufresne, T.
Fichefet, P. Friedlingstein, X. Gao, W. Gutowski, T. Johns, G. Krinner, M. Shongwe, C. Tebaldi, A. Weaver and M. Qin, G. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P. Midgley eds. Lan, B. Hall, G. Dutton, J. Le Floch, B. Bereiter, T. Blunier, J. Barnola, U. Siegenthaler, D. Raynaud, J. Jouzel, H. Fischer, K. Kawamura, and T. High-resolution carbon dioxide concentration record ,, years before present. Nature , Vol. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Introduction to ocean acidification. Accessed October 4, Lindsey, R. Skip to main content. Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. Rebecca Lindsey. August 14, Human activities have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, amplifying Earth's natural greenhouse effect. The global average amount of carbon dioxide hit a new record high in The ocean has absorbed enough carbon dioxide to lower its pH by 0. Share This:.
Global Energy Balance. Atmospheric Composition. Greenhouse Effect. Greenhouse Gas Emissions.