How is atmosphere divided into its different layers?



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    There are 5 main layers of the atmosphere.  From closest to the Earth, they are: troposhere, stratosphere, mesosphere and exosphere.  The troposphere is half of the atmosphere and is where our weather occurs.  The stratosphere is where airplanes often fly and also where you will find the ozone layer.  The mesosphere is where rocks, shooting stars and meteors will burn up as they try to enter the atmosphere.  Then the exosphere is the very thin layer of atmosphere that melds into space.  The exosphere is primarily composed of hydrogen and helium.

    Sometimes there are other layers that are counted as their own layers or are included in those listed above.  I mentioned the ozone layer within the stratosphere.  There is also the ionosphere, which has parts in both the mesosphere and the exosphere and is sometimes considered its own layer.  This is where the aurora occurs.

    Here are the sizes of the layers:

    troposphere: 7 km (23,000 ft) at the poles and 17 km (56,000 ft) at the equator, varying with the weather

    stratosphere: from the troposphere to 50-55 km (160,000-170,000 ft) – the meeting point of the stratosphere and mesosphere is called the stratopause

    mesosphere: from the stratopause to the mesopause, 80–85 km (50–53 mi; 260,000–280,000 ft)

    thermosphere: from the mesopause to the exobase, 350–800 km (220–500 mi; 1,100,000–2,600,000 ft) depending on solar activity

    exosphere: from the exobase on up

    The ozone layer is from the base of the stratosphere to about 15–35 km (9.3–22 mi; 49,000–110,000 ft).

    The ionosphere is from 50 to 1,000 km (31 to 620 mi; 160,000 to 3,300,000 ft)

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