What is Air? | Pressure | Stable & Unstable | Volume | Weather Front | Layers

Layers of the Atmosphere

The atmosphere is a protective layer of gasses that surrounds the entire planet. It keeps temperatures within a relatively small range, blocks out harmful rays of sunlight, and provides plants and animals with air to respire. The atmosphere has five different layers that are determined by the changes in temperature that happen with increasing altitude.

The troposphere is where weather happens. The part of this layer that is closest to the Earth is warmer than the top of the layer. The air is heated by the surface of the Earth, which absorbs the Sun’s energy.

The stratosphere is where jet airplanes fly. Temperatures increase with altitude. The ozone layer within the stratosphere absorbs harmful ultraviolet rays of sunlight.

Brrr! The coldest parts of our atmosphere are found in the mesosphere. It can reach–90°C up there!

There are few air molecules is the thermosphere. The thermosphere can heat up to 1,500°C or higher when the Sun is active, making an aurora that lights up the night sky. Astronauts orbiting Earth in the space station or space shuttle spend their time in this layer.

The upper layer of our atmosphere, where atoms and molecules escape into space, is called the exosphere.