Atmosphere Research UKZN-Westville

Atmospheric Research

What is earth’s atmosphere

The planet earth is surrounded by a layer of gases that is comprised of what is known as earth’s atmosphere (Enhanced Learning, 2014). These gases that surround the earth are held by the gravitation force of the planet (, 2014). The atmosphere of earth provides a protective barrier from potentially harmful radiation that is emitted by the sun (National geographic, 2014).The atmosphere also acts as a protective buffer from incoming space debris. The atmosphere composition is a complex mixture of gases which consist of nitrogen, argon and oxygen which form part of the major gases in the atmosphere (National geographic, 2014). The other gases include neon, carbon dioxide, helium, water vapour and methane (, 2014). The atmosphere consists of 5 principle layers known as the atmospheric stratification (, 2014).

Exosphere: >700 km (>440 miles)

Thermosphere: 80 to 700 km (50 to 440 miles)

Mesosphere: 50 to 80 km (31 to 50 miles)

Stratosphere: 12 to 50 km (7 to 31 miles)

Troposphere: 0 to 12 km (0 to 7 miles)