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Earth’s atmosphere is a mixture of gases that surround our home planet. Besides providing us with something to breathe, the atmosphere helps make life on Earth possible in several other ways.
See the fact file below for more information on the sky and atmosphere or alternatively, you can download our 26-page Sky and Atmosphere worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
THE EARTH’S ATMOSPHERE
- Earth is the only planet in the solar system with an atmosphere sustaining life. The gases not only contain the air that we breathe but also protect us from the radiation and heat from the sun.
- The Earth’s atmosphere is mainly composed of 78% nitrogen (N2) and 21% oxygen (O2). Argon, carbon dioxide (CO2), and many other gases make up less than 1% of the atmosphere.
- The atmosphere also includes 1% water vapor and small particles floating in the atmosphere such as dust, spores and pollen, salt from sea spray, volcanic ash, smoke, and more.
- Even though the atmosphere is so spread out, its weight is equal to a 10 meter-deep (34 feet) layer of water that is more than the amount covering the entire planet.
- According to scientists, gases in our atmosphere were ejected into the air by early volcanoes. But unlike other gases, the oxygen we breathe in did not appear easily.
- It is believed that over millions of years, oxygen was accumulated from the excretion of primitive organisms during photosynthesis – the process a plant or other autotroph uses to make food and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water.
- The atmosphere of the Earth is about 300 miles or 480 kilometers thick. But the majority of its mass is within 10 miles or 16 kilometers from the surface.
- Air pressure also decreases with altitude. It is about 14.7 pounds per square inch at sea level while the air pressure is 10 pounds per square inch at 10,000 feet or 3 kilometers. There is also less oxygen to breathe.
THE ATMOSPHERE HAS LEVELS TOO!
- There are several different layers in the atmosphere. Each has characteristic temperatures, pressures, and phenomena.
- Our atmosphere thins out in each higher layer until the gases dissipate in space.
- An imaginary line between the atmosphere and space about 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the surface, called the Karman line, is where scientists say atmosphere meets outer space.
- From the ground to the sky, the layers are the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. The ionosphere extends from the mesosphere to the exosphere.
- The troposphere is the layer closest to Earth’s surface. It is about 6.2 miles or about 33,000 feet thick, containing half of Earth’s atmosphere.
- The air is warmer near the ground and gets colder higher up. Almost all of the water vapor and dust in the atmosphere are in this layer and that is why clouds are found here.
- Above is the stratosphere. It starts above the troposphere and ends at 31 miles (50 km) above ground. Ozone is abundant here, heating the atmosphere while also absorbing harmful radiation from the sun. The air is very dry and it is about a thousand times thinner here than it is at sea level.
- Jets and other high altitude aircrafts and weather balloons fly along the stratosphere.
- The third layer, the mesosphere starts at 31 miles (50 km) and extends to 53 miles (85 km) high. Here, temperatures again begin to fall.
- The mesosphere has the coldest temperatures in the atmosphere, as low as -120 degrees Celsius (-184 degrees Fahrenheit). It also has the atmosphere’s highest clouds.
- The ionosphere extends from the top half of the mesosphere all the way to the exosphere. This atmospheric layer conducts electricity so it reflects radio waves and particles from solar wind displaying the Northern and Southern Lights.
- The thermosphere extends from about 56 miles (90 km) to between 310 and 620 miles (500 and 1,000 km). Temperatures at this altitude warm up to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 degrees celsius).
- This is also where the space shuttles fly and where the International Space Station orbits Earth.
- The exosphere, the topmost layer, is extremely thin and composed of of hydrogen and helium particles. This is where the atmosphere merges into outer space. Many weather satellites orbit Earth in the exosphere.
IMPORTANCE OF THE SKY
- While the “sky” means everything above the Earth’s surface, including space, we can only survive on certain levels and not beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
- From ten to 50 kilometres above the Earth’s surface is the ozone layer, the Earth’s natural sunscreen that protects living beings from radiation.
- The sky also protects the earth from space rocks called meteoroids. Most meteoroids burn up before they reach the surface.
- Without the atmosphere, rain would not reach many parts of the land, which plants and animals need to survive, and farmers need to grow food.
The Sky and Atmosphere Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the sky and atmosphere across 26 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use The Sky and Atmosphere worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Earth’s atmosphere which is a mixture of gases that surround our home planet. Besides providing us with something to breathe, the atmosphere helps make life on Earth possible in several other ways.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- The Living Sky
- Humans and the Sky
- The Ozone Layer
- High in the Sky
- Neighboring Skies
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Link will appear as The Sky and Atmosphere Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 15, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.