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Essential Principles of Atmospheric Science NASA GSFC Session David Herring, note taker Earth Observatory Team contributing 1. Earth is completely enshrouded in an atmosphere Our atmosphere is relatively thin The processes by which our atmosphere formed

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Essential principles of atmospheric science l.jpg

Essential Principles of Atmospheric Science

NASA GSFC Session

David Herring, note taker

Earth Observatory Team contributing


1 earth is completely enshrouded in an atmosphere l.jpg
1. Earth is completely enshrouded in an atmosphere

  • Our atmosphere is relatively thin

  • The processes by which our atmosphere formed

  • The reasons our atmosphere remains intact


2 the atmosphere is made up of gases particles l.jpg
2. The atmosphere is made up of gases & particles

  • Indicate the concentrations of primary gases

  • Concentrations of particles

  • The atmosphere brokers exchanges of energy b/t Earth & space

    • Gases help trap heat

    • Gases block certain solar rays

    • Particles both reflect and absorb, depending upon their color & composition


3 the atmosphere changes over time and place l.jpg
3. The atmosphere changes over time and place

  • Atmospheric movements are driven by solar energy

  • Atmospheric movements are driven by Earth’s rotation

  • Atmospheric movements are driven by convection

  • Atmospheric movements are driven by temperature gradients

  • Atmospheric movements are driven by interactions w/ the surface


4 the atmosphere has five different layers l.jpg
4. The atmosphere has five different layers

  • The troposphere (e.g., where is it, what’s it made of, why does it matter?)

  • Stratosphere

  • Mesosphere

  • Thermosphere

  • Exosphere


5 the atmosphere is essential for life l.jpg
5. The atmosphere is essential for life

  • Protects life forms from the Sun’s harmful rays

  • Keeps our planet warm

  • Distributes water

  • Protects us from space debris, CMEs, etc.


6 atmosphere interacts w all other earth system spheres l.jpg
6. Atmosphere interacts w/ all other Earth system “spheres”

  • Interactions with the surface (land & ocean) influence the physical and chemical composition of the atmosphere

  • Life respires and evapotranspires, thus influencing the physical & chemical composition of the atmosphere


7 humans influence and are influenced by the atmosphere l.jpg
7. Humans influence and are influenced by the atmosphere “spheres”

  • Humans add gases that help trap heat

  • Humans add particulates that can both cool and warm the surface by reflecting or absorbing sunlight

  • Humans are changing the chemistry of the atmosphere, with global consequences (e.g., ozone hole; global warming)

  • Human-released particles modify clouds to sometimes delay, sometimes intensify rainfall

  • Humans change the surface, which affects the warmth and particulates the surface gives to the atmosphere