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Layers of the Atmosphere: Climate-Weather & Space

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Let’s start with a detailed explanation of the Layers of the atmosphere. After reading the post below, you will be able to do all kinds of questions about the layers of the atmosphere.

Explanation of Layers of Atmosphere 

Basing on the temperature, the atmosphere can be divided into four layers: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere. The temperature drops as we go up through the troposphere, but it rises as we move through the next layer, the stratosphere. The farthest away from earth, the thinner the atmosphere gets.

Layers of the atmosphere diagram

Layers of the atmosphere

How many layers of the atmosphere?

There are 5 layers of the atmosphere:

  1. Troposphere
  2. Stratosphere
  3. Mesosphere
  4. Thermosphere
  5. Exosphere


Now, Explain the layers of the atmosphere in order:


The lowest layer of the earth’s surface is called the troposphere. Troposphere layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth’s surface, extending up to about 10-15 km above the earth’s surface. It contains 75% of the atmosphere’s mass. The troposphere is wider at the equator than at the poles. Temperature and pressure drop as we go higher up the troposphere.

Storms take place in the troposphere, which contains about 75 percent of the atmosphere. The troposphere extends 8 km up from Earth’s surface at the North and South poles and 16 km at the Equator. It gets cold near the top, as low as 75-degree temperature.



At Tropopause, the temperature is constant. At the very top of the troposphere is the Tropopause, where the temperature reaches a minimum. The Tropopause is a “thermal layer” or “cold layer” because is this the maximum limit to which water vapor can rise, as it changes into ice and gets trapped. If there is no cold trap, Earth would lose all its water. Most weather phenomena occur in the troposphere.

  • The altitude of the troposphere is maximum (18km) at the equator.
  • The altitude of the troposphere is minimum (8km) at the pole.
  • The temperature of the troposphere decreases with increased altitude, with a rate of 5.5 degrees Celsius per 1000 m.
  • All-weather phenomena occur in the troposphere like fog, mist, cyclone, and cloudy.
  • These four processes Radiation, conduction, convection, and Advection only occur in the troposphere.



The stratosphere lies directly above the troposphere and is about 35 km deep. It dilates from about 15 to 50 km above the Earth’s surface. The stratosphere is warmer at the top than at the bottom. The lower portion has a near-constant temperature, but in the upper portion, the temperature increases with altitude because of the absorption of sunlight by ozone.

  • The stratosphere is also called the ozonosphere.
  • The temperature of the stratosphere increases with increasing altitude because UV rays of the sun are absorbed by the ozone gas present in this layer.
  • Jet planes and Airplane are flies in the stratosphere.
  • An exceptionally nacreous cloud or mother of pearl can be formed in this layer.
  • Where the protective ozone layer floats 16 to 50 km above Earth’s surface.
  • The concentration of protective ozone peaks at about 22 km up. The stratosphere contains 20 percent of the molecules in the atmosphere and gets warmer as you go away from Earth.

The Ozone layer

The stratosphere contains a thin layer of ozone molecules which forms a protective layer shielding life on Earth from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. The maximum concentration of ozone gas present between 20 km and 35 km.

Layers of the atmosphere



The mesosphere is located just above the stratosphere. Meteorites coming from space burn in the mesosphere. Directly above the stratosphere, 50 to 80 km above the Earth’s surface, the mesosphere is a cold layer where the temperature generally decreases with increasing altitude.

Here in the mesosphere, the atmosphere is very rarefied nevertheless thick enough to slow down meteors hurtling into the atmosphere, where they burn up, leaving fiery trails in the night sky.

  • Where shooting stars blaze.
  • The temperature of the mesosphere decreases with increasing altitude.
  • The minimum temperature of the atmosphere is found in the mesosphere (-90 degrees Celsius)
  • Exceptionally Noctilucent clouds can be found in the mesosphere due to meteors.
  • Space debris begins to burn up as it enters the mesosphere. The temperature drops as you leave Earth dipping to as low as 90 degrees Celsius at the top of the layer.


The thermosphere dilates from 80 km above the Earth’s surface to outer space. The temperature is hot, as high as thousands of degrees as the few molecules that are present in the thermosphere receive extraordinarily large amounts of energy from the Sun.

It compares to the heterosphere, a zone where there is no uniform distribution of gases, instead, they are layered, in accordance with their molecules’ masses. In contrast, the gases in the homospere (consisting of the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere) are uniformly distributed.

Even though the air there is thin, it absorbed so much solar radiation that the temperature can reach up to 230 degrees Celsius. Within the temperature are the ionosphere and magnetosphere. The ionosphere contains electrically charged particles that can interfere with radio broadcasts. Charged particles in the magnetosphere are affected by Earth’s magnetic field and under the right conditions, create the beautiful, shimmering Northern and Southern Lights.

  • The temperature of the thermosphere increases with increasing altitude.
  • The thermosphere is also known as the Ionosphere.
  • Radio waves are reflected in the Ionosphere.


The Ionosphere

The ionosphere is a region of Earth’s upper atmosphere, from about 60 km to 1000 km altitude, and includes the thermosphere and parts of the mesosphere and exosphere. It is ionized by solar radiation, plays an important part in atmospheric electricity, and forms the inner edge of the magnetosphere. It has practical importance because, among other functions, it influences radio propagation to distant places on the Earth.

When electromagnetic waves come from the sun collide with electrically charged particles of the ionosphere then after the explosion, it produces a bright light that is called Aurora.

  • At the North Pole, Aurora is called Aurora Burealis.
  • At the South Pole, Aurora is called Aurora Australis.


It is the outermost layer of the atmosphere, situated just above the thermosphere. The farthest layer is 640 to 64000 km above Earth’s surface. The air dwindles to nothing as molecules draft into space.

  • H2 and He gas are present in the exosphere.
  • Van Allen Radiation Belt is present in the Exosphere.
  • The exosphere is the upper part of the atmosphere.


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