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Because the general pattern of the temperature/altitude profile is constant and measurable by means of instrumented balloon soundings, the temperature behavior provides a useful metric to distinguish atmospheric layers.In this way, Earth's atmosphere can be divided (called atmospheric stratification) into five main layers.The atmosphere becomes thinner and thinner with increasing altitude, with no definite boundary between the atmosphere and outer space.The Kármán line, at 100 km (62 mi), or 1.57% of Earth's radius, is often used as the border between the atmosphere and outer space.Air content and atmospheric pressure vary at different layers, and air suitable for use in photosynthesis by terrestrial plants and breathing of terrestrial animals is found only in Earth's troposphere and in artificial atmospheres.The atmosphere has a mass of about 5.15 three quarters of which is within about 11 km (6.8 mi; 36,000 ft) of the surface.

Aurorae shown here at the bottom of the thermosphere can actually form at any altitude in this atmospheric layer.Excluding the exosphere, the atmosphere has four primary layers, which are the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere.The exosphere is the outermost layer of Earth's atmosphere (i.e. It extends from the exobase, which is located at the top of the thermosphere at an altitude of about 700 km above sea level, to about 10,000 km (6,200 mi; 33,000,000 ft) where it merges into the solar wind.It extends from the mesopause (which separates it from the mesosphere) at an altitude of about 80 km (50 mi; 260,000 ft) up to the thermopause at an altitude range of 500–1000 km (310–620 mi; 1,600,000–3,300,000 ft).The height of the thermopause varies considerably due to changes in solar activity.

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