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Atmospheric Variations in Energy

  • By: David L. Arnold
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

When we consider the atmospheric envelope that surrounds our solid Earth, there exists an upper boundary, the edge of outer space, and a lower boundary, the Earth's surface. Given the spherical nature of Earth, energy can only enter the atmosphere from the upper and lower boundaries.

Energy that enters the atmosphere through the upper boundary originates from the sun and passes through the voids of outer space, reaching the upper atmosphere at an altitude of somewhere near 650 km (kilometers). How much energy passes through the thermosphere (=500-km depth), mesosphere (=85 km), and stratosphere (=50 km) before reaching the troposphere is a function of the mass that exists within these layers. It is important to note that while the sun emits radiation across a large spectral ...

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