The Standard Atmosphere

When trying to understand the atmosphere, it is useful to use a standard atmosphere model. The diagram below illustrates some of the properties of such a model:

The diagram illustrates that properties such as temperature, density (how thick the air is in the volume it takes up) and average pressure, vary considerably as height increases.

The atmosphere is divided up into sections. From lowest to highest, these are Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, and the Thermosphere. At the boundary layers or interfaces between each of these sections (labelled -pause), the temperature increases, if it was previously decreasing with height, or decreases if it was previously increasing with height.

The diagram is a little deceptive, perhaps suggesting that the earths atmosphere is quite deep. In all reality, it is only a very thin layer, and as humans, we only inhabit a very small proportion of that.

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