50 Interesting Facts About The Atmosphere - The Fact File (2023)

Last updated on July 23rd, 2021

The atmosphere is a layer of gases retained by gravity on the earth. It surrounds the globe and protects it by absorbing the infrared rays from the sun. Moreover, it regulates the temperature extremes that are likely to occur between day and night. The shiny blue marble continues to fascinate us since the time we began walking across its surfaces. Interestingly, the most significant portion of the atmosphere is located within twelve kilometers of the earth’s surface. Here are 50 Interesting facts about the atmosphere that you probably didn’t know.

1. The atmosphere is about 500 km thick, with a mix of more than ten different gases. It is made up of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. Other gases such as carbon dioxide, argon, helium, and neon occupy the remaining portion.

2. Ninety-nine percent of the gases that compose the atmosphere are located below a height of 32 km (20 miles).

3. These gases are chemically inert, although some can react with various chemicals: carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, methane, ammonia, ozone, and water vapor. These elements react with toxic gases, salt, smoke, and volcanic ash.

4. The atmosphere comprises five layers: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere.

50 Interesting Facts About The Atmosphere - The Fact File (1)

5. Troposphere is the thinnest and closest layer to the earth’s surface. It contains 80% of the atmospheric weight, making it the densest layer.

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6. As you go up, it becomes colder. The temperatures decrease by 6.5 degrees Celsius each kilometer, reaching -55 degrees Celsius at the top limit of the troposphere, commonly known as the tropopause.

7. Meteorological phenomena are limited to the troposphere since they result from the earth’s rotation and sun’s radiation on the atmosphere. The wind, which is the air current, is generated when the hot air rises and gets replaced by colder air.

8. Stratosphere is the second layer. It extends above the tropopause to an altitude of 50 km above the earth. Its upper edge has maximum ozone concentration, referred to as the ozone belt. The temperatures in the ozone belt are higher than in the troposphere since the ozone absorbs the ultraviolet rays.

9. Air pollution causes the demolition of the ozone belt, and without it, the earth would be exposed to the deadly ultraviolet rays in the sun. Planes fly in the stratosphere to avoid turbulence and fly longer distances using less fuel. Stratopause is the connection between the mesosphere and stratosphere.

10. Mesosphere lies between 50-85 km above sea level. Temperature decreases with height throughout the mesosphere. The coldest temperatures in Earth’s atmosphere, about -90° C (-130° F), are found near the top of this layer. Ice clouds form in this layer which is visible when lighted from beneath during sunset. Moreover, meteorites falling over the earth burn in this layer.

11. The thermosphere extends from about 90 km to 500 kmand 1,000 km above our planet. It comprises the magnetosphere and ionosphere. Air density is the lowest, and its temperature can increase up to 1500 degrees Celsius. It is in the thermosphere that the space shuttle flew.

12. Ionization takes place in the ionosphere caused by the sun’s radiation. The particles in this layer are electrically charged, and when they hit each other, aurora australis can be observed. It helps in propagation of the radio waves used in telecommunication.

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13. At the outer limit of the magnetic field is the magnetosphere. It is like a giant magnet and retains high-energy particles, thereby protecting the earth. Air density in this layer gradually decreases as you go higher.

14. Exosphere widely contains particles of helium and hydrogen. It is the highest layer. The air has a very low density that you get into the interplanetary space without a manifest limit. Thislayerseparates the rest of the atmosphere from outer space. It’s about 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers) thick. That’s almost as wide as Earth itself. Theexosphereis really, really big.

15. The atmospheric balance is jeopardized by human activities that cause global warming, greenhouse effect, ozone belt destruction, air contamination, and acid rains. The burning of fossil fuels discharges carbon dioxide, while agricultural developments deposit a lot of methane and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere.

16. Biosphere forms part of the troposphere where life exists. The biosphere extends from the deepest root systems of trees, to the dark environments of ocean trenches, to lush rain forests, high mountaintops, and transition zones like this one, where ocean and terrestrial ecosystems meet.

50 Interesting Facts About The Atmosphere - The Fact File (2)

17. The photosynthesis process enables plants to take up carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere.

18. The atmospheric gases must retain the heat in the sun rays and reflect them to the earth to keep it warm. Without it, the earth’s surface would be so cold that living here would not be possible. The greenhouse gases increase the effect making the earth’s surface to be warmer than usual.

19. A good percentage of the earth’s population breathes contaminated air, primarily sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide emitted by industrial factories. It has increased the number of respiratory conditions such as asthma.

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20. Acid rains form when nitrogen oxide or Sulphur dioxide combines with water vapor in the atmosphere. Acidic rains destroy plants and animals, and if it reaches rivers and lakes, it destroys all the aquatic life.

21. Skin cancer frequency is increasing due to the thinning of the ozone layer. When greenhouse gases rise into the atmosphere, they form chloride ions that destroy the ozone layer by making holes in it.

22. As the altitude increases, the atmosphere diminishes which is the reason why the air pressure in the exosphere is shallow. Moreover, the distance between the molecules increases as you move up the different layers.

23. At an altitude of 100 km above sea level, a border represents the separation between the atmosphere and outer space. This border is known as the Karman line. In the 1900s, Hungarian physicist Theodore von Kármán determined the boundary to be around 50 miles up, or roughly 80 kilometers above sea level. However, the distance of 100 kms from the earth’s surface is what is considered generally as “an imaginary boundary”. In fact it is not easy to distinguish between “space” and “not space” because of the fact that the Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t simply vanish; rather, it gradually becomes thinner and thinner over about 600 miles.

24. Ozone layer lies about 19-32 km over the earth’s surface. Ozone is a blue pungent-smelling gas that helps to absorb the ultraviolet radiation in the sun rays. In 1985, they observed a hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctic. Luckily the situation has improved since the ban of chlorofluorocarbon.

25. A single chlorine atom can destroy more than a hundred thousand ozone molecules. The destruction of the ozone layer lets an enormous amount of ultraviolet rays reach the earth, which leads to skin cancer and cataracts in humans and animals alike.

50 Interesting Facts About The Atmosphere - The Fact File (3)

26. Aurora is also referred to as polar light. It is seen in high latitude areas as shimmering curtains of lights that are visible at night. They result from ionized particles from the sun striking the upper atmosphere above the poles.

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27. Sunlight is reflected in every direction by the gases present in the atmosphere. Since blue light has short wavelengths, it gets reflected more compared to other colors. It is the reason why the sky appears blue. From space, the earth is seen as a blue halo.

28. The temperatures at the different atmospheric layers differ depending on solar radiation, humidity, and altitude. The presence of moisture in the atmosphere is
measured by the humidity of the air.

29. The coldest temperatures are found in the mesopause. In comparison, the warmest in the thermosphere. Temperature increases with height until the estimated top of the thermosphere at 500 km.

A list of the eleven most abundant gases found in the Earth’s lower atmosphere by volume

SerialGas NameChemical FormulaPercent Volume
1.NitrogenN278.08%
2.OxygenO220.95%
3.*WaterH2O0 to 4%
4.ArgonAr0.93%
5.*Carbon DioxideCO20.0360%
6.NeonNe0.0018%
7.HeliumHe0.0005%
8.*MethaneCH40.00017%
9.HydrogenH20.00005%
10.*Nitrous OxideN2O0.00003%
11.*OzoneO30.000004%
Table last updated July 23, 2021*variable gases
Table data sourcehttp://tornado.sfsu.edu/

30. Meteors burn up in the coldest layer, the mesosphere. As a meteor begins to enter this layer, it rapidly bumps into mesosphere particles and scrapes against them. Due to the high speed of the meteor, it generates a lot of heat resulting from high friction between the particles and the meteor. It starts to glow, and the rocks begin to fly off.

31. Ionosphere plays a vital role in radio signals broadcast on the earth’s surface. Geomagnetic solar storms caused by solar flares or solar winds can disrupt activities in the ionosphere, causing difficulty in transmitting radio signals and global positioning system signals.

32. Although the sun and other planets have magnetospheres, the earth’s magnetosphere is the strongest one of all the rocky planets. Its magnetic field goes up to 60,000 km into space. Also, magnetic and south poles reverse at uneven intervals of hundreds of thousands of years.

33. The particles in the exosphere do not behave like gases. They are far much apart from that they can move thousands of kilometers without colliding. These free-moving elements continuously escape into space due to ballistic trajectories.

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34. You might have seen planes leaving white condensation trails. These are generated when cold atmospheric air blends with the hot, humid exhaust. Within no time, the vapor from the exhaust freezes and turns visible. The contrails usually become thin at low humidity and high altitudes. The more humid the atmosphere is, the thicker the contrails will be. They are much similar to warm breath during cold weather.

35. The atmosphere has nearly 37.5 million billion gallons of water at any given time. The water exists in the form of vapor and invisible to plain eyes. It is enough to cover the entire earth’s surface with 1 cm of rain. Each year, this large amount of water is recycled about 40 times. If you do your calculations, each water vapor particle spends approximately nine days in the atmosphere.

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FAQs

What makes 78 of Earth's atmosphere? ›

The air in Earth's atmosphere is made up of approximately 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen. Air also has small amounts of other gases, too, such as carbon dioxide, neon, and hydrogen.

What are 3 facts about the atmosphere? ›

Facts about the Atmosphere

The Earth has a unique atmosphere that supports life. No other planet or moon atmosphere has been yet discovered that is like the Earth's atmosphere. The atmosphere is made up of five different layers: the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the thermosphere, and the exosphere.

What are 2 things about the atmosphere? ›

Earth's atmosphere is composed of about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and one percent other gases. These gases are found in layers (troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere) defined by unique features such as temperature and pressure.

What are the 5 types of atmosphere? ›

Earth's atmosphere has five major and several secondary layers. From lowest to highest, the major layers are the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere.

What is the 5 importance of atmosphere? ›

Not only does it contain the oxygen we need to live, but it also protects us from harmful ultraviolet solar radiation. It creates the pressure without which liquid water couldn't exist on our planet's surface. And it warms our planet and keeps temperatures habitable for our living Earth.

How thick is our atmosphere? ›

The Earth's atmosphere is an extremely thin sheet of air extending from the surface of the Earth to the edge of space. The Earth is a sphere with a roughly 8000 mile diameter; the thickness of the atmosphere is about 60 miles.

Is the atmosphere made of water? ›

The atmosphere is full of water

Although the atmosphere may not be a great storehouse of water, it is the superhighway used to move water around the globe. Evaporation and transpiration change liquid water into vapor, which ascends into the atmosphere due to rising air currents.

Which gas takes up 20 of the Earth's atmosphere? ›

What's in the Air? By volume, the dry air in Earth's atmosphere is about 78.09 percent nitrogen, 20.95 percent oxygen, and 0.93 percent argon. A brew of trace gases accounts for the other 0.03 percent, including the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone.

What is 80% of the atmosphere? ›

The troposphere is the atmospheric layer closest to the planet and contains the largest percentage (around 80%) of the mass of the total atmosphere.

What are the 5 characteristics of atmosphere? ›

The five layers of the atmosphere are troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. The troposphere is the stratum of the atmosphere where living beings exist. The gases contained in this layer are essential for photosynthesis and respiration.

What is special in our atmosphere? ›

The abundance of oxygen in our atmosphere and the presence of liquid water on the surface of our planet makes our "Pale Blue Dot" stand out in contrast to the other planets in the solar system — a unique and fragile home for life.

What are 5 facts about the troposphere? ›

Fact Sheet
  • The troposphere contains 75% of the atmosphere's total mass.
  • In either space or time the troposphere is not constant.
  • Weather occurs in the troposphere.
  • The troposphere is 10 miles from the equator.
  • The troposphere is 5-7 miles above the poles.
  • Does not contain ozone.

What are the 5 layers of the atmosphere for kids? ›

Earth's atmosphere has six layers: the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the thermosphere, the ionosphere, and the exosphere.

What is the highest layer of atmosphere? ›

Earth's atmosphere has a series of layers, each with its own specific traits. Moving upward from ground level, these layers are called the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. The exosphere gradually fades away into the realm of interplanetary space.

Which is the coldest part of the atmosphere? ›

Mesosphere, altitude and temperature characteristics

The top of the mesosphere is the coldest area of the Earth's atmosphere because temperature may locally decrease to as low as 100 K (-173°C).

What is the hottest layer of atmosphere? ›

The thermosphere is often considered the "hot layer" because it contains the warmest temperatures in the atmosphere. Temperature increases with height until the estimated top of the thermosphere at 500 km. Temperatures can reach as high as 2000 K or 1727 ºC in this layer (Wallace and Hobbs 24).

What is the most important of atmosphere? ›

Troposphere is considered as the most important layer of atmosphere.

What is atmosphere Class 3? ›

An atmosphere is a blanket of gases that surrounds Earth. It is held near the surface of the planet by Earth's gravitational attraction. Argon, oxygen and nitrogen from the three main constituents of the atmosphere.

Why is the sky blue? ›

Violet and blue light have the shortest wavelengths and red light has the longest. Therefore, blue light is scattered more than red light and the sky appears blue during the day. When the Sun is low in the sky during sunrise and sunset, the light has to travel further through the Earth's atmosphere.

How big is each layer of the atmosphere? ›

Thermosphere: 80 to 700 km (50 to 440 miles) Mesosphere: 50 to 80 km (31 to 50 miles) Stratosphere: 12 to 50 km (7 to 31 miles) Troposphere: 0 to 12 km (0 to 7 miles)

What is the atmosphere like on Earth? ›

Earth's atmosphere is composed of about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and one percent other gases. These gases are found in layers (troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere) defined by unique features such as temperature and pressure.

What is atmosphere made up of? ›

Nitrogen and oxygen are by far the most common; dry air is composed of about 78% nitrogen (N2) and about 21% oxygen (O2). Argon, carbon dioxide (CO2), and many other gases are also present in much lower amounts; each makes up less than 1% of the atmosphere's mixture of gases. The atmosphere also includes water vapor.

How do you speak atmosphere? ›

How To Say Atmosphere - YouTube

Is Steam lighter than air? ›

Therefore, under standard conditions* 1 mole of steam (water) is lighter than 1 mole of air. However, operational conditions do not limit themselves to standard conditions. The densities of steam and air vary greatly according to the following factors: The steam:air ratio.

How was the atmosphere created? ›

When Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago from a hot mix of gases and solids, it had almost no atmosphere. The surface was molten. As Earth cooled, an atmosphere formed mainly from gases spewed from volcanoes. It included hydrogen sulfide, methane, and ten to 200 times as much carbon dioxide as today's atmosphere.

How long has Earth had an atmosphere? ›

The results suggest that the initial buildup of oxygen in the atmosphere was relatively rapid. Since its first appearance 2.33 billion years ago, oxygen accumulated in high enough concentrations to have a weathering effect on rocks just 10 million years later.

How many types of air are there? ›

Air is of one type . There are many constituents of it. Air include oxygen , Nitrogen etc. In our atmosphere There is 78% Nitrogen,.

Which layer of the atmosphere do we live? ›

The Troposphere

This is the layer we live in and contains most of what we consider to be "the atmosphere," including the air we breathe and nearly all of the weather and clouds we see. In the troposphere, the temperature of the air decreases the higher you go.

How many gases are there? ›

Among these 11 gases, 6of them are noble gases. They are Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon, and Radon. The gases consist of large size molecules, and there are large distances between these molecules as compared to the other two states (solid and liquid).

How hot or cold is the stratosphere? ›

In this region the temperature increases with height. Heat is produced in the process of the formation of Ozone and this heat is responsible for temperature increases from an average -60°F (-51°C) at tropopause to a maximum of about 5°F (-15°C) at the top of the stratosphere.

What is the importance of atmosphere Class 6? ›

This thin blanket of air is an integral part of the planet. It is very important to us as it enables us to breathe and protects us from the harmful effects of the sun's rays.

Is the stratosphere? ›

The stratosphere is a layer of Earth's atmosphere. It is the second layer of the atmosphere as you go upward. The troposphere, the lowest layer, is right below the stratosphere. The next higher layer above the stratosphere is the mesosphere.

How large is the ozone layer? ›

The ozone layer sits in the stratosphere between 15 km and 30 km above the earth, and shields us and other living things from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation.

What are the 3 main properties of the atmosphere? ›

There are three factors which affect the properties of the atmosphere: temperature, density and pressure.

What are examples of atmosphere? ›

Atmosphere is defined as the area of air and gas enveloping objects in space, like stars and planets, or the air around any location. An example of atmosphere is the ozone and other layers which make up the Earth's sky as we see it. An example of atmosphere is the air and gases contained inside a greenhouse.

What is atmosphere Class 9? ›

Atmosphere is a thin blanket of air that surrounds the earth, It protects us from the harmful rays of the sun. It consists of several gases in which nitrogen and oxygen occupy the major portion. Was this answer helpful?

What are the 5 characteristics of atmosphere? ›

The five layers of the atmosphere are troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. The troposphere is the stratum of the atmosphere where living beings exist. The gases contained in this layer are essential for photosynthesis and respiration.

What are 5 facts about the troposphere? ›

Fact Sheet
  • The troposphere contains 75% of the atmosphere's total mass.
  • In either space or time the troposphere is not constant.
  • Weather occurs in the troposphere.
  • The troposphere is 10 miles from the equator.
  • The troposphere is 5-7 miles above the poles.
  • Does not contain ozone.

What is atmosphere all about? ›

One of the main components of Earth's interdependent physical systems is the atmosphere. An atmosphere is the layers of gases surrounding a planet or other celestial body. Earth's atmosphere is composed of about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and one percent other gases.

What are the 3 main properties of the atmosphere? ›

There are three factors which affect the properties of the atmosphere: temperature, density and pressure.

What are examples of atmosphere? ›

Atmosphere is defined as the area of air and gas enveloping objects in space, like stars and planets, or the air around any location. An example of atmosphere is the ozone and other layers which make up the Earth's sky as we see it. An example of atmosphere is the air and gases contained inside a greenhouse.

What are 3 facts about the mesosphere? ›

The mesosphere is directly above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere. It extends from about 50 to 85 km (31 to 53 miles) above our planet. Temperature decreases with height throughout the mesosphere. The coldest temperatures in Earth's atmosphere, about -90° C (-130° F), are found near the top of this layer.

What is 2 facts about the stratosphere? ›

This layer is 22 miles (35 kilometers) thick. The stratosphere is where you'll find the very important ozone layer. The ozone layer helps protect us from ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun. In fact, the ozone layer absorbs most of the UV radiation the sun sends to us.

What are 3 facts about the ozone layer? ›

The ozone layer, our Earth's sunscreen, absorbs about 98 percent of this devastating UV light. The ozone layer is getting thinner. Chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a reason we have a thinning ozone layer. A chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) is a molecule that contains the elements carbon, chlorine, and fluorine.

Why is it called atmosphere? ›

An atmosphere (from Ancient Greek ἀτμός (atmós) 'vapour, steam', and σφαῖρα (sphaîra) 'sphere') is a layer of gas or layers of gases that envelop a planet, and is held in place by the gravity of the planetary body.

Who Discovered atmosphere? ›

On April 28, 1902, Teisserenc de Bort announced to the French Academy of Science that he discovered a layer of the atmosphere where the temperature stays the same with altitude.

How thick is our atmosphere? ›

The Earth's atmosphere is an extremely thin sheet of air extending from the surface of the Earth to the edge of space. The Earth is a sphere with a roughly 8000 mile diameter; the thickness of the atmosphere is about 60 miles.

What is the coldest layer of the atmosphere? ›

Mesosphere, altitude and temperature characteristics

The top of the mesosphere is the coldest area of the Earth's atmosphere because temperature may locally decrease to as low as 100 K (-173°C).

Can birds fly in the stratosphere? ›

The stratosphere contains roughly 20 percent of the atmosphere's mass. Because bacterial life can survive in the stratosphere, this layer of the atmosphere belongs to the biosphere. Some species of birds have even been reported to fly in the lower levels of the stratosphere.

Is the mesosphere hot or cold? ›

The mesosphere lies above the stratosphere and extends to an altitude of about 85 km (Ahrens 13). This is layer is often referred to as the cold layer, as the lowest readings in the atmosphere are found here. Temperature decreases with height, reaching a minimum average value of -90 ºC at the top of the layer.

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