About the Atmosphere


This sphere is the outer part of the Earth System that extends nearly 500 km above Earth's surface and includes an ever-changing mixture of gas and small particles surrounding the Earth’s surface. It includes meteorological features and phenomena such as weather, clouds, or aerosols (particles in the air). This sphere is integral to several key functions in the Earth system:

  • Supports life on Earth by supplying the necessary chemicals for life
  • Protects Earth's Biosphere from harmful solar radiation
  • Cycles heat, water, and necessary chemicals through the climate system

Structure of Earth’s Atmosphere:

Layers of Atmosphere

Diagram of the layers within Earth's atmosphere.
Diagram of the layers within Earth's atmosphere.                        Credit: NASA/Goddard

The Earth System interacts with the Atmosphere in the following ways:

Links between other Spheres and the Atmosphere