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Quickie Questions - Extraordinary Earth - Atmosphere/Weather

Date Answered Questioner (age, location) Question Answer

February 5, 2010Al (age 64, FL) Is there a place to find a clear explanation of the Coriolis Effect? I understand why pressure systems rotate, but I don't understand why low pressure systems spin counter-clockwise and high pressure systems clockwise (NH). Thank you. For this topic I like the webpage Consequences of Rotation for Weather , developed by the Dept. of Physics & Astronomy of the University of Tennessee.
February 1, 2010Nathalie (age 12, Makati City, Phlippines) Why do large jet airplanes fly in the stratosphere? Air is roughly a thousand times thinner at the top of the stratosphere than it is at sea level. Because of this, jet aircraft and weather balloons reach their maximum operational altitudes within the stratosphere.
January 25, 2010isabela (age 13, Philippines) does the atmosphere of today have the same composition than it did 400 million years ago? Explain It has been calculatd that Earth's atmospher reached the oxygen level of 20% about 400 million years ago.
January 18, 2010jamuna (age 20, india) which gas is not a constituent of green house gas? Greenhouse gases are atmospheric gases that absorb and emit radiation within the infrared portion of the spectrum (Thermal). The main greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Oxygen is not considered a greenhouse gas.
January 15, 2010antoine (age 7, alabama us) how many miles to travel until you reach the exosphere Very high up, the Earth's atmosphere becomes very thin. The region where atoms and molecules escape into space is referred to as the exosphere. The exosphere is on top of the thermosphere which extends from about 90 km (56 miles) to between 500 and 1,000 km (311 to 621 miles) above our planet.
January 11, 2010Richard (age 37, Colorado) What determines the location and magnitude of poleward energy transport? The main driver is the radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere, the difference between the net downward shortwave flux and the outgoing infrared flux, which is larger than 70 W m-2 near the equator when averaged over longitude and season (Hartmann, D. L., 1994: Global Physical Climatology. Academic Press, 411 pp.). For more specific details see http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/ih0101.pdf.
January 5, 2010Callie (age 11, Washington) Which layer of the atmosphere is currently the greatest interest to most meteoroligists? meteorologists study the troposphere, the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere. The troposphere starts at Earth's surface and goes up to a height of 7 to 20 km (4 to 12 miles) above sea level. Most of the mass (about 75-80%) of the atmosphere is in the troposphere. Almost all weather occurs within this layer.
January 5, 2010Sanjiv Bridglal (age 13, Trinidad) What happens in the Thermosphere? Temperatures climb sharply in the lower thermosphere (below 200 to 300 km altitude), then level off and hold fairly steady with increasing altitude above that height. Solar activity strongly influences temperature in the thermosphere. The thermosphere is typically about 200° C (360° F) hotter in the daytime than at night, and roughly 500° C (900° F) hotter when the Sun is very active than at other times. Temperatures in the upper thermosphere can range from about 500° C (932° F) to 2,000° C (3,632° F) or higher. Although the thermosphere is considered part of Earth's atmosphere, the air density is so low in this layer that most of the thermosphere is what we normally think of as outer space. In fact, the most common definition says that space begins at an altitude of 100 km (62 miles), slightly above the mesopause at the bottom of the thermosphere. The space shuttle and the International Space Station both orbit Earth within the thermosphere!
January 4, 2010Matthew (age 13, North Carolina) Why do we have thunder and lightning? Lightning is the most spectacular element of a thunderstorm. In fact it is how thunderstorms got their name. Wait a minute, what does thunder have to do with lightning? Well, lightning causes thunder. Lightning is a giant spark. A single stroke of lightning can heat the air around it to 30,000 degrees Celsius (54,000 degrees Farhenheit)! This extreme heating causes the air to expand at an explosive rate. The expansion creates a shock wave that turns into a booming sound wave, better known as thunder. Thus the name thunderstorm. Don't miss our web page Lightning Formation.
December 23, 2009Shaina (age 15, New York/united states) What is the depth of each one of the layers of the atmosphere? Please, see our diagram for heights and temperatures information.
December 23, 2009alina (age 11, california) Hi. I am doing a slide show for school on hurricanes and i was wondering if u have more facts about the eye of a storm? As a hurricane strengthens and wind speeds increase, an eye begins to form at the center of the storm. Usually this happens once winds reach about 80 mph. The eye is usually circular when viewed from above, and about 20 to 40 miles is diameter. More information in our web page The Eye of a Hurricane and links therein.
December 23, 2009Keyonna (age 11, Florida) How do thunderstorms affect the biosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, cyrosphere and atmosphere? This is too broad a topic to be discussed in this section. Please, visit our web page Thunderstorms and the links therein for a good amount of related information.
October 19, 2009rosemary (age 9, japan) do pilets like to fly there air planes in the stratosphere? The stratosphere is the is the second atmospheric layer, as one moves upward from Earth's surface. Many jet aircrafts fly there because it is very stable. Air is roughly a thousand times thinner at the top of the stratosphere than it is at sea level.
October 16, 2009Wale (age 46, London, England) Flying in a plane at a height of 38,000 feet, I understand that the temperature outside the plane is -51 degrees. Why is this? The temperature gradually drops until you get to about 38,000 feet, where it's about 75 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. At that point, you reach the stratosphere, where the temperature goes up again until you're about 30 miles up, peaking up around 20-25 degrees above zero. See a temperature perfil of the atmosphere in our web page Temperature ot the Atmosphere Throughout Different Layers.
October 9, 2009Bunmi (age 13, Maryland) Does the Earth's atmosphere rotate with the Earth or does it stand still? The atmosphere does rotate with the Earth, but not as a rigid body, and not always in the same direction.
October 2, 2009Vidhi (age 13, Maharashtra) What do you mean by Atmospheric Pressure? Atmospheric Pressure is defined as the weight of the atmosphere on a given point, an average of 1013.2 millibars or 29.2 inches of mercury at sea level.
September 25, 2009Thobeka (age 18, SouthAfrica) what is the composition of the troposphere that make up the air and their percentages. The troposphere starts at Earth's surface and goes up to a height of 7 to 20 km (4 to 12 miles, or 23,000 to 65,000 feet) above sea level. Most of the mass (about 75-80%) of the atmosphere is in the troposphere. Its composition is a mixture of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), and other gases (1%).
September 16, 2009ameya (age 09, india) does the earth's atmosphere has sixth layer?what's its name? The Earth's atmosphere is commonly divided in 5 layers. Sometimes scientists talk about other layers as the ozone layer or the ionosphere, but they are just part of some of these 5 layers.
August 17, 2009TAJHANAE (age 13, CONNECTICUT) WHAT IS THE ALTITUDE A STRATUS CLOUD IS FORMED AT Stratus clouds belong to the Low Cloud (surface-2000 m up) group. They are uniform gray in color and can cover most or all of the sky. Stratus clouds can look like a fog that doesn't reach the ground.
July 23, 2009jordog (age 14, wyoming) What is the pressure level of oxygen? Atmospheric oxygen partial pressure is approximately 21% of the atmospheric pressure of the location at which you measure. For example, the atmospheric preassure at sea level is around 1 atmosphere, and the partial pressure of oxygen is 0.21 atm.
July 20, 2009khun (age 27, Cambodia) How many percentage of rainfall does the earth absorb? And how many percentage of it turn to the atmospher? The amount of rainfall absorved by the ground varies from place to place. It depends on the vegetation cover, the kind of soil, artificial structures (roads, buildings, irrigation chanels), local topography, season, lat/lon, etc.
May 12, 2009Zach (age , ) One of the thories is: Soon after it formed, Earth's incandescent core was enveloped by an ocean of magma. Intense bombardment by meteorites combined with the mantle's heat caused outgassing of its volatile constituent rocks. Within a few million years, a thick, dense atmosphere formed, even though a large portion of it was probably expelled by the gigantic impact that created the Moon 4.4 billion years ago. See more information here.
April 17, 2009Elaine (age 12, NY) The most abundant gas in the atmoshphere is...
A) Oxegen,
B) Nitrogen
C) Argon
D) HElium
Nitrogen is the most abundant gas in the atmosphere: 78% of the Earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases like carbon dioxide, etc.
April 17, 2009tina (age 13, New Jersey) what is the temperature of the thermosphere? Temperatures climb sharply in the lower thermosphere (below 200 to 300 km altitude), then level off and hold fairly steady with increasing altitude above that height. Solar activity strongly influences temperature in the thermosphere. The thermosphere is typically about 200° C (360° F) hotter in the daytime than at night, and roughly 500° C (900° F) hotter when the Sun is very active than at other times. Temperatures in the upper thermosphere can range from about 500° C (932° F) to 2,000° C (3,632° F) or higher.
April 13, 2009Chelsea (age 35, Rocky Hill,CT) what are two things,that begin with the letter P, that have to do with the Earths Atmospere? Are you solving a crossword or similar? PRESSURE is one of the parameter that defined the state of the atmosphere, Various industrial POLLUTANTS are also now present in the air.
March 24, 2009Robert (age 13, USA) What dose Cirrus mean Cirrus comes from the Latin term for "curl or wisp of hair." It is used to identify high clouds, usually above 18,000 feet, composed of ice crystals and appearing in the form of white, delicate filaments or white or mostly white patches or narrow bands.
March 24, 2009Robert (age 13, Plymouth Meeting) What dose Cirrus mean Cirrus comes from the Latin term for "curl or wisp of hair." It is used to identify high clouds, usually above 18,000 feet, composed of ice crystals and appearing in the form of white, delicate filaments or white or mostly white patches or narrow bands.
March 18, 2009balraj (age 11, canada) how does the atmoshere move in space The atmosphere is in continuos motion. The resultant motion is due to a combination of factors, and the 2 most importants are the rotation of our planet, and the heating/cooling due to the Sun (day-night and solar activity related). The atmosphere rotates and also moves around the Sun with the earth. The day-night cycles creates a continuos expansion and contraction process. Additional heating of the atmosphere related with the solar activity could also force an expansion process in the atmosphere.
March 4, 2009jake (age 13, michigan) what is the purpose of the esrths atmosphere? Our planet's atmosphere is where the weather happens. It provides the oxygen needed for life, and keeps a more or less constant temperature on the planet. It also protects Earth and humanity from dangerous radiations from the Sun.
March 3, 2009laquinta (age 10, nc) what is the definition of a cirrus cloud? Cirrus clouds are the most common of the High Cloud (5000-13000m) group. They are composed entirely of ice and consist of long, thin, wispy streamers. They are commonly known as "mare's tails" because of their appearance. Cirrus clouds are usually white and predict fair weather.
March 2, 2009mark (age 11, bronx new york) what is the atmosphere? The atmosphere surrounds Earth and protects us by blocking out dangerous rays from the sun. The atmosphere is a mixture of gases that becomes thinner until it gradually reaches space. It is composed of Nitrogen (78%), Oxygen (21%), and other gases (1%).
February 20, 2009dylan (age 12, beton) what are the most important layers of the atmosphere? The atmosphere is divided into five layers depending on how temperature changes with height. It is thickest near the surface and thins out with height until it eventually merges with space. 1) The troposphere is the first layer above the surface and contains half of the Earth's atmosphere. Weather occurs in this layer. 2) Many jet aircrafts fly in the stratosphere because it is very stable. Also, the ozone layer absorbs harmful rays from the Sun. 3) Meteors or rock fragments burn up in the mesosphere. 4) The thermosphere is a layer with auroras. It is also where the space shuttle orbits. 5) The atmosphere merges into space in the extremely thin exosphere. This is the upper limit of our atmosphere.
February 20, 2009Courtney (age 12, N.C) How do winter storms form? Basically, winter storms form when an air mass of cold, dry, Canadian air moves south and interacts with a warm, moist air mass moving north from the Gulf of Mexico.
February 8, 2009Matthew (age 11, massachusetts/ usa) Who named the layers of the atmosphere? In 1902, Teisserenc de Bort named the two layers of the atmosphere known at that time, the "troposphere" and the "stratosphere". The same naming convention was used for higher layers discovered later.
January 30, 2009Emily (age 9, Ohio/United States) Is there a certain cloud that can bring a tornado? Cumulonimbus clouds belong to the Clouds with Vertical Growth group. They are generally known as thunderstorm clouds. A cumulonimbus cloud can grow up to 10km high. At this height, high winds will flatten the top of the cloud out into an anvil-like shape. Cumulonimbus clouds are associated with heavy rain, hail, lightning, and tornadoes.
January 22, 2009Emma (age 12, south caroilna conway 29526) What is the percent of strosphere ?
What are the temperatures that change and air pressure that change in each layer?
This figure shows the average temperature profile through the Earth's atmosphere. Temperatures in the thermosphere are very sensitive to solar activity and can vary from 500°C to 1500°C.
November 12, 2008Leydi (age 14, Miami, Fl) How earth rotation affects the movement of air, wind systems, types of fronts? The rotation of our planet indeed afect in a very complex manner the motion of the atmosphere. One of the most notorious effect related with the rotation of the planet is the Coriolis effect - an apparent deflection of air and water to the right in the NH and to the left in the SH.
November 4, 2008Catherine (age 16, Australia) With the greenhouse effect, I know that the IR is converted to the potential and kinetic energy of the GHG molecules but what, then, is the energy that is radiated back to the Earth? Do the molecules become saturated in the energy and ping off as a result? When sunlight warms the Earth’s surface, the heat is then radiated to the atmosphere. Some of this heat makes its way out of the Earth system, but along the way much of the heat is absorbed by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The infrared radiation strikes a molecule such as carbon dioxide and causes the bonds to bend and vibrate - this is called the absorption of IR energy. The molecule gains kinetic energy by this absorption of IR radiation. This extra kinetic energy may then be transmitted to other molecules such as oxygen and nitrogen and causes a general heating of the atmosphere.
October 31, 2008Tyrell (age 16, philadelphia,pa) without extra oxygen, man is restricted to what layer of the atmosphere? To the lower layer, the troposphere
September 30, 2008Nick (age 55, Florida) Does the weather move, or are we actually turning into the weather as the earth spins? Actually, it is a combination of both, known as differential rotation. Air moves due to the existence of temperature (or density) gradients, but at the same time the solid part is also moving with a slightly different speed that the atmosphere.
September 30, 2008Nick (age 55, Florida) Does the weather move, or are we actually turning into the weather as the earth spins? Actually, it is a combination of both, known as differential rotation.
September 30, 2008lyndsey (age 10, Taiwan) What is a thunderhead? Thunderhead can refer to a cumulonimbus cloud seen during a thunderstorm.
September 24, 2008Madison (age 9, Iowa) What type of gas(s) are made up of in the Mesosphere? The mesosphere is composed of the same proportion of gases that the rest of the atmosphere, Nitrogen (78%), Oxygen (21%), and other gases (1%). This is the less known layer of the atmosphere. Visit our web page Mesosphere for more information.
September 24, 2008sharanya (age 13, karnataka,India) how are hailstones formed and what makes them fall? Hailstones begin to form as an ice nucleus that may continue to accumulate ice or can melt in the thundercloud and turn to rain. This nucleus could be formed from dirt, piece of bark, seed, etc. If the thunderstorm is cold enough, this nucleus will accumulate layers of ice through a process called accretion, until it is so heavy it falls as precipitation.
September 5, 2008 (age , we stay in Oman) The influence of forests on atmospheric tempreture They can influence the atmospheric temperature in several ways. For example, their darker color, when compared with cities and deserts, means that they absorb more solar energy, reflecting less back to the atmosphere. Fires on the forests not only heat the lower layers of the atmosphere, but also release tons of particulates and pollution. The forest also contributes to the atmosphere by taking CO2 and releasing oxygen (O2).
August 14, 2008sharanya (age 13, karnataka,India) how is atmosphere weighed? The weight of the Earth's atmosphere can be calculated as follows. Atmospheric pressure at sea level is on average 14.5 pounds per square inch = 10 tons/m2. This pressure is due to the weight of atmosphere above an area at sea level of one square meter. The radius of the Earth "r" is 5 925 km and so the surface area of the Earth (land and ocean) is 4 x pi x r2 = 4 x 3.142 x 59252 = 441 million kilometres2 = 441,000 billion meter2. Therefore the weight of the Earth's atmosphere is 441,000 billion x 10 = 4.41 million billion tons. Adapted from Accelerated Global Warming and Atmospheric CO2 Emissions.
June 30, 2008Haley (age 9, Tennessee) What is the atmosphere made up of? The atmosphere is a mixture of gases that becomes thinner until it gradually reaches space. It is composed of Nitrogen (78%), Oxygen (21%), and other gases (1%).
June 27, 2008Damaris (age 12, Texas) What layer of the atmosphere contains the biosphere? The troposphere is the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere. It is considered part of the biosphere.
June 27, 2008Melanie (age 14, Fl) Which layer does moest weather conditons take place? Weather occurs in the Earth's troposphere.
May 13, 2008ziad (age 12, new york) Describe how the amount of air changes as you travel up through Earth's atmosphere. Most of the gases that form our atmosphere are (due to the gravitational atraction) concentrated close to the surface. At sea level, the number of atoms and molecules in a cubic centimeter of air is about 2x1019; however, the outermost atmosphere of our planet (above a few hundred kilometers) is a region of extremely low density, with about 2x107 particles per cubic centimeter of air near 600 km of altitude.
May 12, 2008Jovanni (age 13, Philippines) how does an eye of a cyclone or tornado was formed? There still an on-going debate about how the eye and eyewall are formed. Several scientists support the hypothesis that the existence of very strong winds cause air to be centrifuged out of the eye into the eyewall.
May 7, 2008Khaila (age 10, Louisiana) If there is no air in space what keeps the air inside the Earth?Explain why. Gravity is the force that keeps the atmosphere around our planet.
May 2, 2008Bryan (age 11, CA) "What is the region between the layers of the atmosphere called?" The region between layers is named with the same term as the lower of two layers, but adding "pause" at the end. For example, the transition boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere is called the tropopause.
April 18, 2008Rica (age 11, Philippines) What are the gases found in/makes up the atmosphere? The atmosphere is a mixture of gases that becomes thinner until it gradually reaches space. It is composed of Nitrogen (78%), Oxygen (21%), and other gases (1%).
March 31, 2008kiran (age 11, new york) How does the compisition of gasas change as you travel up through the atmosphere? The atmosphere surrounds Earth and protects us by blocking out dangerous rays from the sun. The atmosphere is a mixture of gases that becomes thinner until it gradually reaches space. It is composed of Nitrogen (78%), Oxygen (21%), and other gases (1%). More information can be found in our web page The Earth's Atmosphere and the links therein.
March 19, 2008Brittany (age 15, Georgia) what is the ultimate cause of all weather?
and
what is the source of this ultimate cause of all weather?
There are several factors that interact in the troposphere to define weather. Heat energy and its dispersion, air pressure and movement, and the amount of moisture are the main players.
March 18, 2008Deseree (age 11, CA, USA) what are the various things you can find in each layer of the atmosphere? for example, what do you find in the biosphere? Our web page Layers of Earth's Atmosphere offers the information you are looking for and much more.
March 14, 2008tristuian (age 15, sc) why are the layers of the atmosphere so important? Atmospheric layers are different in composition, temperature, etc. Because we live in one of them, and the weather happens there (besides other human activities in other layers), it is important to know how they behave under different conditions.
February 15, 2008NADINE (age 13, PHILIPPINES) what causes storms? Storms are created when a center of low pressure develops, with a system of high pressure surrounding it. This combination can create winds and result in the formation of storm clouds.
February 15, 2008nadine (age 13, philippines) why are there different kinds of storms? Storms can be clasified in different ways. Most serious storms have heavy rains, winds, snow or hail. Some examples of severe weather are tornadoes, hurricanes and thunderstorms. All of these can cause massive damage where they occur.
February 12, 2008Katie (age 14, United states) In the troposphere, what does the air temperature do as the altitude increases? In the Earth troposphere the temperature generally decreases with increasing height.
February 5, 2008harris (age 11, FL America) the main idea of troposphere The troposphere is the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere. The air is very well mixed and the temperature decreases with altitude. Air in the troposphere is heated from the ground up. The surface of the Earth absorbs energy and heats up faster than the air does. The heat is spread through the troposphere because the air is slightly unstable. Weather occurs in the Earth's troposphere.
January 30, 2008Debbie (age 15, usa) how does the amount of humidity in the air affect the amount of clouds in the sky? Clouds form when water accumulates around very small particles (aerosols). If there is no change in the amount of these particles, higher humidity would produce more water accumulation, which could result in an increase in the number of clouds.
January 15, 2008Jackie (age 10, Michigan) What type of weather/stuff happens in the mesosphere? In the Earth's mesosphere, the air is relatively mixed together and the temperature decreases with altitude. The atmosphere reaches its coldest temperature of around -90°C in the mesosphere. This is also the layer in which a lot of meteors burn up while entering the Earth's atmosphere. There are no important weather processes here.
January 12, 2008Laine (age 5, Louisiana/USA) Where do tornados form? on the ground or in the sky? Tornadoes form from severe thunderstorms. They have a very high energy density which means that they affect a small area but are very destructive to that area. They also don't last very long which makes it hard to learn about them. More information in our website Tornadoes.
January 8, 2008ashin (age 12, usa) What is the temperature in the Exosphere?????? The exosphere is the outermost layer of the earth's atmosphere, starting at 500-1000 km above the surface and gradually thinning to the vacuum of space. At these altitudes the air is so tenuous that temperature has to be defined in terms of the energy of individual molecules: daytime energies reach well over a thousand degrees; at night the molecule radiates and its energy level falls to a few degrees of absolute zero.
January 3, 2008Andrew (age 9, South Carolina/United States) Explain how the air above the earth is warmed? There are different ways in which our atmosphere is warmed. The main ones are directly from the Sun rays, and because the radiation of heat from the surface of the Earth.
December 27, 2007Sarah (age 13, New York) What gases make up th Troposphere? The troposphere is primarily composed of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%) with only small concentrations of other gases. Nearly all atmospheric water vapour is found in the troposphere.
December 27, 2007shelina (age 14, USA) explain why the total amount of nitrogen doesn't change? For a relatively short period of time, the amount of nitrogen on Earth's atmosphere remains approximately constant, moving around the different parts of the Nitrogen Cycle. But when long periods of time are considered, the amount of nitrogen does change. Please, visit our web page Earth's Primordial Atmosphere for further details.
December 17, 2007Emily (age 16, Louisiana) Why does weather only occur in the Tropospheric? It is true that most weather occurs in the troposhere, but there is still some weather related processes above the troposphere, but these layers are very stable and have much lower density.
December 12, 2007michelle (age 27, illinois usa) why does most weather occur only in 1 layer of the atmosphere Most weather occurs in the troposhere. There is still some weather related processes above the troposphere, but these layers are very stable and have much lower density.
December 10, 2007marvin (age 15, western australia) which layer has jet streams Jet streams are found in the atmosphere at around 11 kilometers of altitude. The jet stream is mainly found in the tropopause, the transition region between the troposphere and the stratosphere.
December 10, 2007Jillian (age 13, PA/United States) How does the mesophere affect life on the Earth's surface? In the Earth's mesosphere, the air masses are relatively mixed together and the temperature decreases with altitude. Atmospheric temperatures reach the lowest average value of around -90°C in the mesosphere. This is also the layer in which a lot of meteors burn up while entering the Earth's atmosphere. Because the mesosphere lies between the maximum altitude for aircraft and the minimum altitude for orbital spacecraft, scientists can only study this region using sounding rockets.
October 18, 2007Dawson (age 11, FL) 1. Need details of the EXOSPHERE
2. What is the Exosphere miles and/or kilometers?
3. What is the Exosphere Teperature (Celsius & Fahrenheit)?
4. What if anythin is located in the Exosphere? do you have pictures?
The exosphere starts at around 500 km of altitude, where the Earth's atmosphere becomes very thin and where atoms and molecules escape into space. The exosphere is on top of the thermosphere.
October 15, 2007ronel (age 16, Batangas Philippines) What objects can be seen in each layer of earth's atmosphere? This image shows what man-made and natural phenomena occur in each layer of the atmosphere.
September 18, 2007jeremy (age 25, rhode island) How far away is the exosphere? The exosphere is assumed to begin at about 500 km. More information in our web page Layers of the Earth's Atmosphere.
August 21, 2007Brittany (age 14, Western Australia) Why is the thermosphere hotter than the mesosphere? The temperature in the Thermosphere can reach 2000º C. It is so hot here because nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere absorb a good deal of radiation from space and convert it to heat.
August 21, 2007Nicolas (age 12, New Zealand) How does the activity of man affect the atmosphere There are many ways in which humans affect the atmosphere, maybe he best known is the "greenhouse effect". The gases in the atmosphere that help retain heat are called greenhouse gases. These gases, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), absorb heat instead of allowing it to escape into space. This "greenhouse effect" makes the planet a hospitable place. However, greenhouse gases can have negative effects, too. Human activity has increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Since the 1800s, industrialized societies have burned fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas; these processes all give off CO2. During the past 25 years, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by about 8 percent. With more CO2 in the atmosphere, more heat is absorbed and retained, causing global temperatures to rise. Extracted from Weather: The Atmoshere.
July 27, 2007Amy (age 13, Australia, Qld) How thick are layers in the atmosphere? The troposphere goes to about 10km. The stratosphere from about 10 km to about 50km (40 km thick). From 50 km to about 85 km is the mesosphere (~35 km thick), and from about 85 km to about 500 km is the thermosphere (~400 km thick). This figure from our web site shows the different layers.
July 18, 2007GABY (age 16, CA) what are the 4 layers of the atmosphere? The atmosphere is divided into five layers. It is thickest near the surface and thins out with height until it eventually merges with space. 1) The troposphere is the first layer above the surface and contains half of the Earth's atmosphere. Weather occurs in this layer. 2) Many jet aircrafts fly in the stratosphere because it is very stable. Also, the ozone layer absorbs harmful rays from the Sun. 3) Meteors or rock fragments burn up in the mesosphere. 4) The thermosphere is a layer with auroras. It is also where the space shuttle orbits. 5) The atmosphere merges into space in the extremely thin exosphere. This is the upper limit of our atmosphere.
July 18, 2007windsor (age 9, ) How did Earth get atmostphere Scientists believe that Earth’s present atmosphere came from inside the planet. Volcanos might have spewed out water vapor, nitrogen compounds, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and methane. Interactions with radiation from the sun—and falling temperatures—caused large amounts of nitrogen to appear. Eventually, life came on the scene to add breathable oxygen and protective ozone, creating the air we breathe today. More information at this web page.
July 17, 2007Christopher (age 12, Australia) What is the composition of all the individual layers in the earths atmosphere? The atmosphere surrounds Earth and protects us by blocking out dangerous rays from the sun. The atmosphere is a mixture of gases that becomes thinner until it gradually reaches space. It is composed of Nitrogen (78%), Oxygen (21%), and other gases (1%). More information can be found in our web page The Earth's Atmosphere and the links therein.
July 11, 2007maggie (age 13, mi) what is thermospher temperature range The thermosphere is the fourth layer of the Earth's atmosphere and is located above the mesosphere. The air is really thin in the thermosphere. A small change in energy can cause a large change in temperature. That's why the temperature is very sensitive to solar activity. When the sun is active, the thermosphere can heat up to 1,500°C or higher! More information in our webpage The Thermosphere.
July 11, 2007BOODHUN (age 39, MAURITIUS) Define a low pressure and high pressure area? A low pressure are has a lower atmospheric pressure that its sorroundings. The opposite is true for high pressure areas.
July 2, 2007jade (age 11, Hong Kong) Why is the thermosphere made of mostly hydrogen and helium? Because the extreme temperatures that can be reached at this height. The thermosphere is the fourth layer of the Earth's atmosphere and is located above the mesosphere. The air is really thin in the thermosphere. A small change in energy can cause a large change in temperature. That's why the temperature here is very sensitive to solar activity. When the sun is active, the thermosphere can heat up to 1,500°C or higher!
July 2, 2007Desmonnd (age 19, South africa) what are the first most charectoristics of the first layer of the atmosphere The troposphere is the first layer above the surface and contains half of the Earth's atmosphere. Weather occurs in this layer.
May 21, 2007Mary (age 14, NY ,USA) why is the atmoshere divided into four layers? This image shows the changes in temperature with height. There you can see how the temperature profile has different characteristics for the different layers.
May 5, 2007jemel (age 15, massachusetts) how does the temperature change as you travel up through the atmosphere There are different layers in the atmosphere where the temperature either increases or decreases with height!! For an image showing the temperature of the atmosphere throughout different layers, visite our web page.
May 5, 2007josue (age 11, Texas,U.S.A) WHAT IS THE FORCE THAT HELPS FORM THUNDER? Inside a thunderstorm, the + and - charges are separated into two sections. All of the + charges are at the top of the thunderstorm cloud. All of the - charges are at the bottom of the thunderstorm cloud. During a thunderstorm, the ground has a + charge. + and - charges are attracted to each other. The - charge at the bottom of the thunderstorm cloud wants to meet the + charge of the ground. The - charge of the cloud starts to rush toward the + charge at the ground. At the same time, the + charge rushes toward the - charge. It happens so fast that all we can see is a line of light. This is called lightning. More information in our web page Lightning and Thunder.
May 5, 2007shane (age 10, n.c , usa) what layer of the amosphere does planes fly in? Most of the flying occurs in the troposphere. For an image showing what man-made and natural phenomena occur in each layer of the atmosphere, visit here.
May 5, 2007shane (age 10, n.c , usa) what layer of the amosphere does planes fly in? Most of the flyind occurs in the troposphere. For an image showing what man-made and natural phenomena occur in each layer of the atmosphere, visit here.
April 4, 2007Taylor (age 11, Arizona) What height is the tropopause,the stratopause, and the mesopause? The tropopause, at about 10 km of altitud,. is the limit between the troposphere and the stratosphere. Between the stratosphere and the mesosphere is the stratopause (at about 50 km), and the uper part of the mesosphere is the mesopause (about 85 km).
March 30, 2007liz (age 41, california, usa) would there be wind without the sun? why or why not? The main cause for winds is the existence of horizontal differences in air pressure (air flows form areas of higher pressure to areas of lower pressure). Differences in air pressure are caused by uneven heating of the Earth's surface. Therefore, the sun (solar energy) is the ultimate cause of wind. For more information, visit the web page Wind, Global Wind Systems and the Coriolis Effect.
March 30, 2007liz (age 41, california, usa) would there be wind without the sun? why or why not? The main cause for winds is the existence of horizontal differences in air pressure (air flows form areas of higher pressure to areas of lower pressure). Differences in air pressure are caused by uneven heating of the Earth's surface. Therefore, the sun (solar energy) is the ultimate cause of wind. For more information, visit the web page Wind, Global Wind Systems and the Coriolis Effect.
March 28, 2007Alex (age , ) The ozone layer is the part of the atmosphere with relatively high concentrations of ozone (O3). This layer is mainly located in the lower part of the stratosphere (15 to 35 km above Earth's surface) although the thickness varies seasonally and geographically.
March 5, 2007Amber (age 12, Georgia) Why is there 7 layers in the atmosphere? The atmosphere is a mixture of gases that becomes thinner until it gradually reaches space. It is composed of Nitrogen (78%), Oxygen (21%), and other gases (1%). The atmosphere is divided into five layers depending on how temperature changes with height. Our web page Layers of the Earth Atmosphere describes the different layers.
March 5, 2007stacey (age 17, malaysia) What will happen if acid rain is not overcome? Acid rain can have harmful impacts on the ecosystems in the environment. It acidifies the soil and water where it falls, damaging or even killing plants and animals. Surface water acidification can lead to a decline in, and loss of, fish populations and other aquatic species including frogs, snails and crayfish. Acid rain affects trees, usually by weakening them through damage to their leaves. Certain types of building stone, such as limestone and marble, can be gradually dissolved in acid rain. The long-term effects of acid rain could be devastating.
March 1, 2007Sharon (age 12, GA) What objects lie in the Stratosphere? (example: stars, rockets, meteroids, etc.) Many jet aircrafts fly in the stratosphere because it is very stable. It also contains the ozone layer, which absorbs harmful rays from the Sun.
February 22, 2007Judy (age 13, wa) What is the Width of each layer in Earth 's atmosphere ? Answer please it's due on 2/14/07 Troposphere: From surface to about 10 km. Stratosphere: From 20 to about 50 km. Mesosphere: From about 50 to about 85 km. Thermosphere: Over 90 km. More detailed information at our web page Temperature of the Atmosphere.
February 22, 2007Judy (age 13,wa) What is the Width of each layer in Earth 's atmosphere ? Answer please it's due on 2/14/07 Troposphere: From surface to about 10 km. Stratosphere: From 20 to about 50 km. Mesosphere: From about 50 to about 85 km. Thermosphere: Over 90 km. More detailed information at our web page .
February 22, 2007Judy (age 13, wa) What is the Width of each layer in Earth 's atmosphere ? Answer please it's due on 2/14/07 Troposphere: From surface to about 10 km. Stratosphere: From 20 to about 50 km. Mesosphere: From about 50 to about 85 km. Thermosphere: Over 90 km. More detailed information at our web page Temperature of the Atmosphere.
February 22, 2007Judy (age 13, wa) What is the range temperture of the mesosphere ? The mesosphere covers from about 50 km to the range of 80 km to 85 km, and its temperature decreases with height from about -10 to about -70 degree C.
February 22, 2007claus (age 60, BC, Canada) I have searched the www and this site.
I would like to know the formulae for calculating the volume of the earht's atmosphere ... say to the 99% of mass which I believe is within 31Kilometers from earth
Should I just assume the volume of the larger sphere and deduct the smaller... but the earth is not round. Can you send me to a link?
Thanks
Claus
The mesosphere covers from about 50 km to the range of 80 km to 85 km, and its temperature decreases with height from about -10 to about -70 degree C.
February 22, 2007Faith (age 8, Tennessee) What kind of cloud brings sleet and freezing rain? Cummulonimbus clouds are storm clouds associated precipitation like rain, sleet, hail, etc.
February 22, 2007lindsey (age 12, nj) how do different air pressures in two air masses cause dramatic changes in weather patterns Most weather occurs along the periphery of air masses at boundaries called fronts. For example, in winter an arctic air mass (very cold and dry air) can move over the ocean, picking up some warmth and moisture from the warmer ocean and becoming a maritime polar air mass - one that is still fairly cold but contains moisture. If that same polar air mass moves south from Canada into the southern U.S. it will pick up some of the warmth of the ground, but due to lack of moisture it remains very dry. This is called a continental polar air mass. Pressure is related with the air masses through the fact that cold, dry air is more dense than warm, moist air. If hot air masses are the same height, the cold air will have higher pressure at the earth's surface.
January 25, 2007Brittany (age 14, Arizona) What is the average temperature of the whole Troposphere? The troposphere starts at the Earth's surface and extends 8 to 1.5 kilometers high. The temperature drops with height from about 17 to -52 degrees Celsius.
January 25, 2007Crystal (age 13, Texas) What are the 5 layers of the atmosphere called The Earth's atmosphere is divided vertically into four layers based on temperature: the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere.
January 25, 2007Crystal (age 13, Texas) What are the 5 layers of the atmosphere called The Earth's atmosphere is divided vertically into four layers based on temperature: the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere.
January 23, 2007debra (age 20,CANADA) What is the temperature of the stratosphere The stratosphere starts just above the troposphere and extends up to 50 kilometers high. The temperature in this region increases gradually to -3 degrees Celsius, due to the absorbtion of ultraviolet radiation.
January 17, 2007zachary (age 12, canada) how does the greenhouse effect effect our planet? The presence in the atmosphere of gases like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, causes the trapping of the Sun energy. In other words, without greenhouse gases, the heat would leave our planet and Earth would be considerably cooler.
January 14, 2007skilar (age 10, united states ohio) what are some facks about the Troposphere The troposphere is where all weather takes place. It is the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere. The air is very well mixed and the temperature decreases with altitude. Air in the troposphere is heated from the ground up. The surface of the Earth absorbs energy and heats up faster than the air does. The heat is spread through the troposphere because the air is slightly unstable. For more information, please visit our web page The Troposphere.
January 5, 2007chavon (age 13 1/2, ohio) what is another name for very low clouds? Low clouds (clouds with bases are around 6,500 feet or 2,000 meters), are usually of the nimbostratus, stratocumulus, stratus, cumulus and cumulonimbus type.
January 5, 2007divya (age 14, India) what is cyclones? Please explain The definition of cyclone is: an area of low pressure around which winds blow counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. Also the term used for a hurricane in the Indian Ocean and in the Western Pacific Ocean.

For more information about this topic, please visit our web page Hurricanes.
January 5, 2007divya (age 14, India) what is cyclones? Please explain The definition of cyclone is: an area of low pressure around which winds blow counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. Also the term used for a hurricane in the Indian Ocean and in the Western Pacific Ocean. For more information about this topic, please visit our web page .
December 6, 2006brittany (age 12, alaska) what is the layers of the earths atmosphere? The atmosphere is divided into five layers. It is thickest near the surface and thins out with height until it eventually merges with space. 1) The troposphere is the first layer above the surface and contains half of the Earth's atmosphere. Weather occurs in this layer. 2) Many jet aircrafts fly in the stratosphere because it is very stable. 3) Meteors or rock fragments burn up in the mesosphere. 4) The thermosphere is a layer with auroras. 5) The atmosphere merges into space in the extremely thin exosphere. This is the upper limit of our atmosphere. For more information visit our page a href="/earth/Atmosphere/layers.html&edu=high">Layers of the Earth's Atmosphere
November 30, 2006Kelli (age 11, SouthCarolina/unitedstates) The troposphere contains about 75%f what in the atmosphere? The Troposphere is the lowest layer of the atmosphere and contains about 95 % of the mass of air in the Earth's atmosphere.
November 20, 2006katelynd (age 12, new zealand) what are the differences between climate and weather? Weather is the mix of events that happen each day in our atmosphere including temperature, rainfall and humidity. Weather is not the same everywhere. Perhaps it is hot, dry and sunny today where you live, but in other parts of the world it is cloudy, raining or even snowing. Everyday, weather events are recorded and predicted by meteorologists worldwide. Climate in your place on the globe controls the weather where you live. Climate is the average weather pattern in a place over many years. So, the climate of Antarctica is quite different than the climate of a tropical island. Hot summer days are quite typical of climates in many regions of the world, even without the affects of global warming. Information adapted from: http://eo.ucar.edu/basics/index.html
June 15, 2001 Ghada (11, Saudi Arabia) What does climate mean? The earth's climate is generally defined as the average weather over a long period of time. A place or region's climate is determined by both natural and anthropogenic (human-made) factors.
May 9, 2001 (14, New York, USA) Where can I find information about the mesosphere and exosphere? The mesophere and exosphere are layers of the Earth's atmosphere.
March 27, 2001 Allison (11, Mississippi, USA) About how many layers are in the atmosphere? There are 5 layers in the Earth's atmosphere.
February 5, 2001 Melissa (age 21+, South Carolina, USA) Does our wind come from solar wind? Though the solar wind does drive some processes that affect life on Earth, it is not responsible for the wind. Most simply, winds on Earth are due to differences in pressure within the atmosphere.
November 20, 2000 Krystle (age 14, USA) How is lightning formed? And how do the storms form? What causes them to happen when they happen? This page should help you out!
October 30, 2000 Tom (age 13, Bethesda) What is the stratosphere? The stratosphere is the second layer of the Earth's atmosphere (going from the ground up). The famous ozone layer is in the stratosphere.
October 12, 2000 Casey (age 11, Missouri, USA) Why do rainbows occur? Here's a page on why rainbows occur!
September 29, 2000 Kenny (age 10, Colorado, USA) How far is the atmosphere from Earth? Well, the atmosphere actually starts right at the solid surface of the Earth. So if you go out in the backyard and lie down on the grass...the atmosphere is right there even just an inch above the grass. The first layer of the atmosphere starts right where we live. That layer of the atmosphere is called the troposphere. But the atmosphere does extend out really far...to about 250 miles or 400 kilometers above the Earth's surface. That last layer of the Earth's atmosphere is called the exosphere.
August 16, 2000 Andy (age 51, New Zealand) When the temperature drops to 0 centigrade at ground level is there a warm layer of air above it and if so what height dose the warm level start and finish?

First of all, regardless of the surface temperature, it is possible for air above the surface to be warmer. Typically, the temperateure decreases as we go up for the 10-20 km.

However, at some height the air may actually get warmer for just a little while. This is called an inversion. Inversion can occur at almost any altitude. Clouds usually form near an inversion.

July 13, 2000 Christin (age 19, California, USA ) What is thought to be the likely origin of the modern Earth's atmoshere?

Scientists believe our atmosphere was formed when gases seeped out of the Earth. There were large amounts of water vapor that became lakes. Nitrogen and carbon dioxide also leaked out of the Earth. These gases were unable to escape the Earth's gravitational pull. Eventually, there was enough gas to create an atmosphere.

June 26, 2000 Angelina (age 13, Canada ) What surveillance methods exist to track or predict tornadoes? Read tornado forecasting to find out!
June 13, 2000 Elly (age 16, Virginia, USA ) How does a helium balloon work?

This is a simple question of density. Helium is less dense than the air around it. And we all know that less dense air rises! You can do the simple experiment with water and cooking oil. Put them in a glass, and the oil will always float above the water because it is less dense.

May 12, 2000 Tammy (26, Ohio, USA) When is a tornado more likely to form day or night or when have most formed? Tornadoes can form at any time, day or night. The important thing is to have the right conditions. A tornado can't just form out of thin air!

First of all, tornadoes can only form from one type of cloud. Only the most advanced and largest clouds can make tornadoes. Plus, there must be a high level of instability in the atmosphere, and a high dew point.

May 12, 2000 Patrick (age 22, Illinois, USA) Why is there a difference of heights of the tropopause level at two different locations?

The height of the tropopause depends on a number of factors, including the surface temperature.

The temperature of the tropopause does not change much, but the surface temperature changes greatly around the globe. In the Arctic regions, the surface temperature is obviously lower than the tropics. It takes a lot longer for the temperature to drop in the tropics, so naturally the tropopause has to be higher.

March 20, 2000 Holly (age 15, Canada) Does rain fall in droplets because the water molecules are attracted to each other by electrostatic forces, or is this just another theory? During a storm, water molecules in clouds begin to form around dust particles. These molecules are mixed up inside the clouds and combine to form tiny droplets. At some point the droplets get too big for the cloud to hold, and they begin to fall out. As they fall, they collect more molecules and eventually form rain droplets. During stronger storms, the winds can keep the droplets inside the clouds for longer periods of time, so we get larger droplets. However, rain droplets can only get so large before they are broken up during their fall through the sky.
March 1, 2000 Vivek (age 15, India) How can I understand the mechanism of the monsoons ? This page, from USA Today, has a good diagram to check out.
February 9, 2000 Eledy (age 13, Pennsylvania, USA) Can you tell the weather from clouds? If so how? You can't really tell the weather from clouds, but they will give you an idea of what the weather will be like in the near future. If you look outside and there are only scattered, thin clouds, then you don't have to worry about any rain or snow for a while.

But if there are many grey, tall clouds, you better get inside because a storm is probably on its way! Also, the amount of cloud cover will affect the temperature at night.

Last modified April 19, 2002 by Jennifer Bergman.

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