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what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form

what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form

 

 

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clouds come in countless shapes and sizes

From giant puffs billowing toward the sun to thin wisps slinking past the moon, clouds come in countless shapes and sizes.

This makes them wonderful fodder for the imagination—at some point, hasn’t everyone looked heavenward and seen a fire-breathing dragon floating by?

Aside from sparking creativity, clouds serve several important scientific purposes, from helping meteorologists predict the weather to facilitating life on Earth.

what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form
what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form

Recipe for a cloud

The building blocks of clouds are water and particles—of dust, dirt, or sea salt—known as cloud condensation nuclei. These nuclei are everywhere in the atmosphere. They attract water vapor and as they ascend the vapor condenses to form liquid water or ice, which results in the formation of tiny globules called cloud droplets. Much smaller than raindrops, cloud droplets are extremely light and amass while they float, mixing with air to form the fluffy formations we see suspended in the sky.

what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form
what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form

Cloud atlas

 

Clouds generally form within the troposphere, or the layer of atmosphere closest to the earth. As they rise and fall, they may appear in infinite variations. To create some order scientists have established three broad categories into which most clouds can be grouped.
At the upper reaches of the troposphere you’ll find high clouds, which

, depending on geographic location, occur between roughly 10,000 and 60,000 feet. Below that is the home of mid-level clouds, which generally occur between 6,000 and 25,000 feet. Finally, closest to Earth’s surface are low clouds, which hover at or below 6,500 feet.

 

Earth’s atmosphere has five major and several secondary layers

Earth’s atmosphere has five major and several secondary layers. From lowest to highest, the major layers are the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere.
Troposphere. Earth’s troposphere extends from Earth’s surface to, on average, about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) in height, with its height lower at Earth’s poles and higher at the equator.

 

In the troposphere

In the troposphere, temperatures typically go down the higher you go, since most of the heat found in the troposphere is generated by the transfer of energy from Earth’s surface.

The troposphere is the densest atmospheric layer, compressed by the weight of the rest of the atmosphere above it.

Most of Earth’s weather happens here, and almost all clouds that are generated by weather are found here,

with the exception of cumulonimbus thunder clouds, whose tops can rise into the lowest parts of the neighboring stratosphere. Most aviation takes place here, including in the transition region between the troposphere and the stratosphere.
Stratosphere. Located between approximately 12 and 50 kilometers (7.5 and 31 miles) above Earth’s surface,

 

the stratosphere is perhaps best known as home to Earth’s ozone layer

the stratosphere is perhaps best known as home to Earth’s ozone layer, which protects us from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. Because of that UV radiation, the higher up you go into the stratosphere, the warmer temperatures become.

The stratosphere is nearly cloud- and weather-free,

but polar stratospheric clouds are sometimes present in its lowest, coldest altitudes.

It’s also the highest part of the atmosphere that jet planes can reach.
Mesosphere.

Located between about 50 and 80 kilometers (31 and 50 miles) above Earth’s surface, the mesosphere gets progressively colder with altitude.

In fact, the top of this layer is the coldest place found within the Earth system, with an average temperature of about minus 85 degrees Celsius (minus 120 degrees Fahrenheit).

what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form
what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form

noctilucent clouds(what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form)

The very scarce water vapor present at the top of the mesosphere forms noctilucent clouds, the highest clouds in Earth’s atmosphere, which can be seen by the naked eye under certain conditions and at certain times of day.

Most meteors burn up in this atmospheric layer.

Sounding rockets and rocket-powered aircraft can reach the mesosphere.
Thermosphere. Located between about 80 and 700 kilometers (50 and 440 miles) above Earth’s surface is the thermosphere, whose lowest part contains the ionosphere.

In this layer, temperatures increase with altitude due to the very low density of molecules found here. It is both cloud- and water vapor-free. The aurora borealis and aurora australis are sometimes seen here.

The International Space Station orbits in the thermosphere.
Exosphere.

Located between about 700 and 10,000 kilometers (440 and 6,200 miles) above Earth’s surface, the exosphere is the highest layer of Earth’s atmosphere and, at its top, merges with the solar wind.

Molecules found here are of extremely low density, so this layer doesn’t behave like a gas, and particles here escape into space. While there’s no weather at all in the exosphere, the aurora borealis and aurora australis are sometimes seen in its lowest part. Most Earth satellites orbit in the exosphere.
The Edge of Outer Space.

 

there’s really no clear boundary between where Earth’s atmosphere ends and outer space begins(what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form)

While there’s really no clear boundary between where Earth’s atmosphere ends and outer space begins, most scientists use a delineation known as the Karman line, located 100 kilometers (62 miles) above Earth’s surface,

to denote the transition point, since 99.99997 percent of Earth’s atmosphere lies beneath this point. A February 2019 study using data from the NASA/European Space Agency Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft suggests,

however, that the farthest reaches of Earth’s atmosphere — a cloud of hydrogen atoms called the geocorona — may actually extend nearly 391,000 miles (629,300 kilometers) into space, far beyond the orbit of the Moon.

What layer do planes fly?(what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form)

Commercial jet aircraft fly in the lower stratosphere to avoid the turbulence which is common in the troposphere below.

The stratosphere is very dry air and contains little water vapor. Because of this, few clouds are found in this layer and almost all clouds occur in the lower, more humid troposphere.

Which is the coldest layer?(what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form)

 

The top of the mesosphere is the coldest area of the Earth’s atmosphere because temperature may locally decrease to as low as 100 K (-173°C).

What layer do we live in?(what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form)

This is the layer we live in and contains most of what we consider to be “the atmosphere,” including the air we breathe and nearly all of the weather and clouds we see. In the troposphere, the temperature of the air decreases the higher you go.

 

What layer is the thickest?

Pressure and temperature increase with depth beneath the surface.

The core is the thickest layer of the Earth, and the crust is relatively thin, compared to the other layers.

Which is the hottest layer?

The thermosphere is often considered the “hot layer” because it contains the warmest temperatures in the atmosphere. Temperature increases with height until the estimated top of the thermosphere at 500 km.

Temperatures can reach as high as 2000 K or 1727 ºC in this layer (Wallace and Hobbs 24).

 

What is the thinnest layer of the atmosphere?

The troposphere is also the thinnest layer, only about 10 miles high. The second layer up from the ground is the stratosphere.

This layer extends from about 10-30 miles, and unlike the troposphere, it increases in temperature with elevation.

 

We humans live in troposphere

The troposphere is the lowest layer of our atmosphere.

Starting at ground level, it extends upward to about 10 km (6.2 miles or about 33,000 feet) above sea level.

We humans live in the troposphere, and nearly all weather occurs in this lowest layer.

 

What are some characteristics of the troposphere layer?

The troposphere is between 5 and 9 miles (8 and 14 kilometers) thick depending on where you are on Earth. It’s thinnest at the North and South Pole. This layer has the air we breathe and the clouds in the sky.

The air is densest in this lowest layer.

 

What layer is the Northern Lights?(what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form)

Finally, the aurora (the Southern and Northern Lights) primarily occur in the thermosphere.

 

What is the difference between the troposphere and the tropopause?

The troposphere is the lowest and thickest layer of the atmosphere.

The tropopause is the boundary layer between the troposphere and the stratosphere .

 

Why is the troposphere important?

From the tropopause all the way down to Earth’s surface, the troposphere is important because it is where weather occurs.

The troposphere provides oxygen that we can breathe, keeps Earth at a livable temperature, and allows for weather to occur, making it a very important part of the atmosphere.

 

What is an interesting fact about the troposphere?(what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form)

 

From the tropopause all the way down to Earth’s surface, the troposphere is important because it is where weather occurs.

The troposphere provides oxygen that we can breathe, keeps Earth at a livable temperature, and allows for weather to occur, making it a very important part of the atmosphere.

 

What layer is the ozone layer in?(what layer of the atmosphere do clouds form)

Most atmospheric ozone is concentrated in a layer in the stratosphere, about 9 to 18 miles (15 to 30 km) above the Earth’s surface (see the figure below). Ozone is a molecule that contains three oxygen atoms.

At any given time, ozone molecules are constantly formed and destroyed in the stratosphere

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