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2. Thermodynamic (Physical) Properties of the Atmosphere

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2. Thermodynamic (Physical) Properties of the Atmosphere

The kinetic theory: the absolute temperature is in proportion to the average kinetic energy of the random microscopic motions of their constituent microscopic particles such as electrons, atoms, and molecules.


The kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the velocity and the mass of the constituent. Faster moving (greater velocity) molecules have higher temperature.

The same mass with a higher temperature contains a great amount of heat energy.

Temperature does not tell you the total kinetic energy an object has.

An elephant having the same temperature as a mouse contains more heat energy because of much greater mass.




2. Thermodynamic (Physical) Properties of the Atmosphere

The diagram to the left illustrates a second aspect of the atmospheric pressure as gas molecules hit the walls with forces denoted by the red arrows.

The diagram below shows two ways to increase pressure. The longer the arrow, the higher the temperature and greater velocity of the molecules.

The animation to the left illustrates pressure increases with increasing temperature when the density (ρ) is kept constant.

k= Boltzmann constant = R / NA

P= k (n/V)NA T