68130-Ch03_IM - Chapter 3: Introduction to the Atmosphere...

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Chapter 3: Introduction to the Atmosphere Without an atmosphere, life as we know it on Earth would not be possible. Atmosphere is a vast but very shallow ocean of air with Earth at bottom (more than 98% of it lies within 26 kilometers [16 miles] of Earth’s surface). Atmosphere is held to Earth by gravitational pull, which is loose enough that the air can move on its own. TOPICS Size of Earth’s Atmosphere Composition of the Atmosphere Permanent Gases Variable Gases Particulates (Aerosols) Vertical Structure of the Atmosphere Thermal Layers Pressure Composition Human-Induced Atmospheric Change Depletion of the Ozone Layer Air Pollution Weather and Climate The Elements of Weather and Climate The Controls of Weather and Climate The Coriolis Effect People and the Environment: The UV Index KEYWORDS heterosphere (p. 61) homosphere (p. 60) mesopause (p. 59) mesosphere (p. 59) ozone (p. 57) ozone layer (p. 57) ozonosphere (p. 61) particulates (aerosols) (p. 57) photochemical smog (p. 66) stratopause (p. 59) stratosphere (p. 59) thermosphere (p. 59) tropopause (p. 58) troposphere (p. 58) water vapor (p. 56) weather (p. 67) carbon dioxide (p. 57) chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) (p. 63) climate (p. 67) controls of weather and climate (p. 67) Coriolis effect (p. 70) elements of weather and climate (p. 67) exosphere (p. 59) 27
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CHAPTER OUTLINE I. Size of Earth’s Atmosphere A. Air—synonymous with atmosphere, and is a mixture of gases, mainly nitrogen and oxygen. B. The atmosphere could be considered a vast ocean of air surrounding Earth. C. It is held fast to Earth’s surface by the planet’s gravitational pull, but not so tightly that it cannot move as a fluid mass. D. Although the atmosphere extends outward to more than 10,000 kilometers, more than 50% of the atmosphere’s mass is concentrated within about 600 meters of Earth’s surface, and more than 98% of it lies within 26 kilometers of the surface. E. The atmosphere also extends downward into caves, rock, and soil, as well as being dissolved into water and in the bloodstreams of living organisms. II. Composition of the Atmosphere A. Permanent Gases 1. Nitrogen and Oxygen a) Nitrogen—78% b) Oxygen—21% c) Argon—nearly 1% d) Neon, helium, methane, krypton, hydrogen are found in trace amounts B. Variable Gases 1. Water vapor a) Is invisible in Earth’s atmosphere, but determines the humidity of the atmosphere, and is the source of all clouds and precipitation, and is intimately involved in the storage, movement, and release of heat energy. b) May be as much as 4% of the total volume of air over warm moist surfaces (i.e., tropical oceans), and less than 1% within arid regions. c) The total amount of water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere is nearly constant, so it is variable in location and not in time. 2.
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68130-Ch03_IM - Chapter 3: Introduction to the Atmosphere...

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