Troposphere

The troposphere is the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere, and is also where nearly all weather conditions take place. It contains approximately 75% of the atmosphere's mass and 99% of the total mass of water vapor and aerosols.[2] The average height of the troposphere is 18 km (11 mi; 59,000 ft) in the tropics, 17 km (11 mi; 56,000 ft) in the middle latitudes, and 6 km (3.7 mi; 20,000 ft) in the polar regions in winter. The total average height of the troposphere is 13 km.

The lowest part of the troposphere, where friction with the Earth's surface influences air flow, is the planetary boundary layer. This layer is typically a few hundred meters to 2 km (1.2 mi; 6,600 ft) deep depending on the landform and time of day. Atop the troposphere is the tropopause, which is the border between the troposphere and stratosphere. The tropopause is an inversion layer, where the air temperature ceases to decrease with height and remains constant through its thickness.[3]

The word troposphere is derived from the Greek tropos (meaning "turn, turn toward, change") and sphere (as in the Earth), reflecting the fact that rotational turbulent mixing plays an important role in the troposphere's structure and behaviour. Most of the phenomena associated with day-to-day weather occur in the troposphere.[3]

EarthAtmosphereBig
Diagram showing the five primary layers of the Earth's atmosphere: exosphere, thermosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, and troposphere. The layers are to scale. From Earth's surface to the top of the stratosphere (50 km) is just under 1% of Earth's radius.
Endeavour silhouette STS-130
Space Shuttle Endeavour silhouetted against the atmosphere. The orange layer is the troposphere, the white layer is the stratosphere, and the blue layer is the mesosphere.[1] (The shuttle is actually orbiting at an altitude of more than 320 km (200 mi), far above all three layers.)

Pressure and temperature structure

Troposphere CIMG1853
A view of Earth's troposphere from an airplane.

Composition

By volume, dry air contains 78.08% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases. Air also contains a variable amount of water vapor. Except for the water vapor content, the composition of the troposphere is essentially uniform. The source of water vapor is at the Earth's surface through the process of evaporation. The temperature of the troposphere decreases with altitude. And, saturation vapor pressure decreases strongly as temperature drops. Hence, the amount of water vapor that can exist in the atmosphere decreases strongly with altitude and the proportion of water vapor is normally greatest near the surface of the Earth.

Pressure

The pressure of the atmosphere is maximum at sea level and decreases with altitude. This is because the atmosphere is very nearly in hydrostatic equilibrium so that the pressure is equal to the weight of air above a given point. The change in pressure with altitude can be equated to the density with the hydrostatic equation[4]

where:

Since temperature in principle also depends on altitude, one needs a second equation to determine the pressure as a function of altitude as discussed in the next section.

Temperature

Troposphere Temperature Trend1
This image shows the temperature trend in the Middle Troposphere as measured by a series of satellite-based instruments between January 1979 and December 2005. The middle troposphere is centered around 5 kilometers above the surface. Oranges and yellows dominate the troposphere image, indicating that the air nearest the Earth's surface warmed during the period.Source: [1]

The temperature of the troposphere generally decreases as altitude increases. The rate at which the temperature decreases, , is called the environmental lapse rate (ELR). The ELR is nothing more than the difference in temperature between the surface and the tropopause divided by the height. The ELR assumes that the air is perfectly still, i.e. that there is no mixing of the layers of air from vertical convection, nor winds that would create turbulence and hence mixing of the layers of air. The reason for this temperature difference is that the ground absorbs most of the sun's energy, which then heats the lower levels of the atmosphere with which it is in contact. Meanwhile, the radiation of heat at the top of the atmosphere results in the cooling of that part of the atmosphere.

Environmental Lapse Rate (ELR)
Altitude Region Lapse rate Lapse Rate
(m) (Kelvin/km) (°F/1000 feet)
0 – 11,000 6.5 3.57
11,000 – 20,000 0.0 0.0
20,000 – 32,000 -1.0 -0.55
32,000 – 47,000 -2.8 -1.54
47,000 – 51,000 0.0 0.0
51,000 – 71,000 2.8 1.54
71,000 – 85,000 2.0 1.09

The ELR assumes the atmosphere is still, but as air is heated it becomes buoyant and rises. The dry adiabatic lapse rate accounts for the effect of the expansion of dry air as it rises in the atmosphere and wet adiabatic lapse rates includes the effect of the condensation of water vapor on the lapse rate.

When a parcel of air rises, it expands, because the pressure is lower at higher altitudes. As the air parcel expands, it pushes the surrounding air outward, transferring energy in the form of work from that parcel to the atmosphere. As energy transfer to a parcel of air by way of heat is very slow, it is assumed to not exchange energy by way of heat with the environment. Such a process is called an adiabatic process (no energy transfer by way of heat). Since the rising parcel of air is losing energy as it does work on the surrounding atmosphere and no energy is transferred into it as heat from the atmosphere to make up for the loss, the parcel of air is losing energy, which manifests itself as a decrease in the temperature of the air parcel. The reverse, of course, will be true for a parcel of air that is sinking and is being compressed.[3]

Since the process of compression and expansion of an air parcel can be considered reversible and no energy is transferred into or out of the parcel, such a process is considered isentropic, meaning that there is no change in entropy as the air parcel rises and falls, . Since the heat exchanged is related to the entropy change by , the equation governing the temperature as a function of height for a thoroughly mixed atmosphere is

where S is the entropy. The above equation states that the entropy of the atmosphere does not change with height. The rate at which temperature decreases with height under such conditions is called the adiabatic lapse rate.

For dry air, which is approximately an ideal gas, we can proceed further. The adiabatic equation for an ideal gas is [5]

where is the heat capacity ratio (=7/5, for air). Combining with the equation for the pressure, one arrives at the dry adiabatic lapse rate,[6]

If the air contains water vapor, then cooling of the air can cause the water to condense, and the behavior is no longer that of an ideal gas. If the air is at the saturated vapor pressure, then the rate at which temperature drops with height is called the saturated adiabatic lapse rate. More generally, the actual rate at which the temperature drops with altitude is called the environmental lapse rate. In the troposphere, the average environmental lapse rate is a drop of about 6.5 °C for every 1 km (1,000 meters) in increased height.[3]

The environmental lapse rate (the actual rate at which temperature drops with height, ) is not usually equal to the adiabatic lapse rate (or correspondingly, ). If the upper air is warmer than predicted by the adiabatic lapse rate (), then when a parcel of air rises and expands, it will arrive at the new height at a lower temperature than its surroundings. In this case, the air parcel is denser than its surroundings, so it sinks back to its original height, and the air is stable against being lifted. If, on the contrary, the upper air is cooler than predicted by the adiabatic lapse rate, then when the air parcel rises to its new height it will have a higher temperature and a lower density than its surroundings, and will continue to accelerate upward.[3][4]

The troposphere is heated from below by latent heat, longwave radiation, and sensible heat. Surplus heating and vertical expansion of the troposphere occurs in the tropics. At middle latitudes, tropospheric temperatures decrease from an average of 15 °C at sea level to about −55 °C at the tropopause. At the poles, tropospheric temperature only decreases from an average of 0 °C at sea level to about −45 °C at the tropopause. At the equator, tropospheric temperatures decrease from an average of 20 °C at sea level to about −70 to −75 °C at the tropopause. The troposphere is thinner at the poles and thicker at the equator. The average thickness of the tropical troposphere is roughly 7 kilometers greater than the average tropospheric thickness at the poles.[7]

Tropopause

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

Measuring the temperature change with height through the troposphere and the stratosphere identifies the location of the tropopause. In the troposphere, temperature decreases with altitude. In the stratosphere, however, the temperature remains constant for a while and then increases with altitude. This coldest layer of the atmosphere, where the lapse rate changes from positive (in the troposphere) to negative (in the stratosphere), is defined as the tropopause.[3] Thus, the tropopause is an inversion layer, and there is little mixing between the two layers of the atmosphere.

Atmospheric flow

The flow of the atmosphere generally moves in a west to east direction. This, however, can often become interrupted, creating a more north to south or south to north flow. These scenarios are often described in meteorology as zonal or meridional. These terms, however, tend to be used in reference to localised areas of atmosphere (at a synoptic scale). A fuller explanation of the flow of atmosphere around the Earth as a whole can be found in the three-cell model.

Zonal flow

Zonalflow
A zonal flow regime. Note the dominant west-to-east flow as shown in the 500 hPa height pattern.

A zonal flow regime is the meteorological term meaning that the general flow pattern is west to east along the Earth's latitude lines, with weak shortwaves embedded in the flow.[8] The use of the word "zone" refers to the flow being along the Earth's latitudinal "zones". This pattern can buckle and thus become a meridional flow.

Meridional flow

Meridionalflowpattern
Meridional Flow pattern of October 23, 2003. Note the amplified troughs and ridges in this 500 hPa height pattern.

When the zonal flow buckles, the atmosphere can flow in a more longitudinal (or meridional) direction, and thus the term "meridional flow" arises. Meridional flow patterns feature strong, amplified troughs of low pressure and ridges of high pressure, with more north-south flow in the general pattern than west-to-east flow.[9]

Three-cell model

AtmosphCirc2
Atmospheric circulation shown with three large cells.

The three cells model of the atmosphere attempts to describe the actual flow of the Earth's atmosphere as a whole. It divides the Earth into the tropical (Hadley cell), mid latitude (Ferrel cell), and polar (polar cell) regions, to describe energy flow and global atmospheric circulation (mass flow). Its fundamental principle is that of balance – the energy that the Earth absorbs from the sun each year is equal to that which it loses to space by radiation. This overall Earth energy balance, however, does not apply in each latitude due to the varying strength of the sun in each "cell" as a result of the tilt of the Earth's axis in relation to its orbit. The result is a circulation of the atmosphere that transports warm air poleward from the tropics and cold air equatorward from the poles. The effect of the three cells is the tendency to even out the heat and moisture in the Earth's atmosphere around the planet.[10]

Synoptic scale observations and concepts

Forcing

Forcing is a term used by meteorologists to describe the situation where a change or an event in one part of the atmosphere causes a strengthening change in another part of the atmosphere. It is usually used to describe connections between upper, middle or lower levels (such as upper-level divergence causing lower level convergence in cyclone formation), but also be to describe such connections over lateral distance rather than height alone. In some respects, teleconnections could be considered a type of forcing..

Divergence and convergence

An area of convergence is one in which the total mass of air is increasing with time, resulting in an increase in pressure at locations below the convergence level (recall that atmospheric pressure is just the total weight of air above a given point). Divergence is the opposite of convergence – an area where the total mass of air is decreasing with time, resulting in falling pressure in regions below the area of divergence. Where divergence is occurring in the upper atmosphere, there will be air coming in to try to balance the net loss of mass (this is called the principle of mass conservation), and there is a resulting upward motion (positive vertical velocity). Another way to state this is to say that regions of upper air divergence are conducive to lower level convergence, cyclone formation, and positive vertical velocity. Therefore, identifying regions of upper air divergence is an important step in forecasting the formation of a surface low pressure area.

References

  1. ^ "STS-130 Shuttle Mission Imagery". NASA. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Troposphere". Concise Encyclopedia of Science & Technology. McGraw-Hill. 1984. It contains about four-fifths of the mass of the whole atmosphere.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Danielson, Levin, and Abrams (2003). Meteorology. McGraw Hill.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b Landau and Lifshitz, Fluid Mechanics, Pergamon, 1979
  5. ^ Landau and Lifshitz, Statistical Physics Part 1, Pergamon, 1980
  6. ^ Kittel and Kroemer, Thermal Physics, Freeman, 1980; chapter 6, problem 11
  7. ^ Paul E. Lydolph (1985). "The Climate of the Earth". Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc. p. 12. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  8. ^ "American Meteorological Society Glossary – Zonal Flow". Allen Press Inc. June 2000. Archived from the original on 2007-03-13. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  9. ^ "American Meteorological Society Glossary – Meridional Flow". Allen Press Inc. June 2000. Archived from the original on 2006-10-26. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  10. ^ "Meteorology – MSN Encarta, "Energy Flow and Global Circulation"". Encarta.Msn.com. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2006-10-13.

External links

Atmosphere of Earth

The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gases, commonly known as air, that surrounds the planet Earth and is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere of Earth protects life on Earth by creating pressure allowing for liquid water to exist on the Earth's surface, absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention (greenhouse effect), and reducing temperature extremes between day and night (the diurnal temperature variation).

By volume, dry air contains 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases. Air also contains a variable amount of water vapor, on average around 1% at sea level, and 0.4% over the entire atmosphere. 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 5.15×1018 kg, three quarters of which is within about 11 km (6.8 mi; 36,000 ft) of the surface. 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. Atmospheric effects become noticeable during atmospheric reentry of spacecraft at an altitude of around 120 km (75 mi). Several layers can be distinguished in the atmosphere, based on characteristics such as temperature and composition.

The study of Earth's atmosphere and its processes is called atmospheric science (aerology). Early pioneers in the field include Léon Teisserenc de Bort and Richard Assmann.

Cloud

In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of minute liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or other particles suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body or similar space. Water or various other chemicals may compose the droplets and crystals. On Earth, clouds are formed as a result of saturation of the air when it is cooled to its dew point, or when it gains sufficient moisture (usually in the form of water vapor) from an adjacent source to raise the dew point to the ambient temperature. They are seen in the Earth's homosphere (which includes the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere). Nephology is the science of clouds, which is undertaken in the cloud physics branch of meteorology.

There are two methods of naming clouds in their respective layers of the atmosphere; Latin and common. Cloud types in the troposphere, the atmospheric layer closest to Earth's surface, have Latin names due to the universal adaptation of Luke Howard's nomenclature. Formally proposed in 1802, it became the basis of a modern international system that divides clouds into five physical forms that appear in any or all of three altitude levels (formerly known as étages). These physical types, in approximate ascending order of convective activity, include stratiform sheets, cirriform wisps and patches, stratocumuliform layers (mainly structured as rolls, ripples, and patches), cumuliform heaps, and very large cumulonimbiform heaps that often show complex structure. The physical forms are divided by altitude level into ten basic genus-types. The Latin names for applicable high-level genera carry a cirro- prefix, and an alto- prefix is added to the names of the mid-level genus-types. Most of the genera can be subdivided into species and further subdivided into varieties. Very low stratiform clouds that extend down to the Earth's surface are given the common names fog and mist, but have no Latin names.

Several clouds that form higher up in the stratosphere and mesosphere have common names for their main types. They are seen infrequently, mostly in the polar regions of Earth. Clouds have been observed in the atmospheres of other planets and moons in the Solar System and beyond. However, due to their different temperature characteristics, they are often composed of other substances such as methane, ammonia, and sulfuric acid as well as water.

Taken as a whole, homospheric clouds can be cross-classified by form and level to derive the ten tropospheric genera, the fog and mist that forms at surface level, and several additional major types above the troposphere. The cumulus genus includes three species that indicate vertical size. Clouds with sufficient vertical extent to occupy more than one altitude level are officially classified as low- or mid-level according to the altitude range at which each initially forms. However they are also more informally classified as multi-level or vertical.

Hot tower

A hot tower is a tropical cumulonimbus cloud that reaches out of the lowest layer of the atmosphere, the troposphere, and into the stratosphere. In the tropics, the border between the troposphere and stratosphere, the tropopause, typically lies at least 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) above sea level. These formations are called "hot" because of the large amount of latent heat released as water vapor condenses into liquid and freezes into ice. The presence of hot towers within the eyewall of a tropical cyclone can indicate possible future strengthening.

List of cloud types

The list of cloud types groups the tropospheric types as high (cirrus, cirrocumulus, cirrostratus), middle (altocumulus, altostratus), multi-level (nimbostratus, cumulus, cumulonimbus), and low (stratocumulus, stratus) according to the altitude level or levels at which each cloud is normally found. Small cumulus are commonly grouped with the low clouds because they do not show significant vertical extent. Of the multi-level genus-types, those with the greatest convective activity are often grouped separately as towering vertical. The genus types all have Latin names.

The genera are also grouped into five physical forms. These are, in approximate ascending order of instability or convective activity: stratiform sheets; cirriform wisps and patches; stratocumuliform patches, rolls, and ripples; cumuliform heaps, and cumulonimbiform towers that often have complex structures. Most genera are divided into species with Latin names, some of which are common to more than one genus. Most genera and species can be subdivided into varieties, also with Latin names, some of which are common to more than one genus or species. The essentials of the modern nomenclature system for tropospheric clouds were proposed by Luke Howard, a British manufacturing chemist and an amateur meteorologist with broad interests in science, in an 1802 presentation to the Askesian Society. Very low stratiform clouds that touch the Earth's surface are given the common names, fog and mist, which are not included with the Latin nommenclature of clouds that form aloft in the troposphere.

Above the troposphere, stratospheric and mesospheric clouds have their own classifications with common names for the major types and alpha-numeric nomenclature for the subtypes. They are characterized by altitude as very high level (polar stratospheric] and extreme level polar mesospheric).

Low-pressure area

A low-pressure area, low, depression or cyclone is a region on the topographic map where the atmospheric pressure is lower than that of surrounding locations. Low-pressure systems form under areas of wind divergence that occur in the upper levels of the troposphere. The formation process of a low-pressure area is known as cyclogenesis. Within the field of meteorology, atmospheric divergence aloft occurs in two areas. The first area is on the east side of upper troughs, which form half of a Rossby wave within the Westerlies (a trough with large wavelength that extends through the troposphere). A second area of wind divergence aloft occurs ahead of embedded shortwave troughs, which are of smaller wavelength. Diverging winds aloft ahead of these troughs cause atmospheric lift within the troposphere below, which lowers surface pressures as upward motion partially counteracts the force of gravity.

Thermal lows form due to localized heating caused by greater sunshine over deserts and other land masses. Since localized areas of warm air are less dense than their surroundings, this warmer air rises, which lowers atmospheric pressure near that portion of the Earth's surface. Large-scale thermal lows over continents help drive monsoon circulations. Low-pressure areas can also form due to organized thunderstorm activity over warm water. When this occurs over the tropics in concert with the Intertropical Convergence Zone, it is known as a monsoon trough. Monsoon troughs reach their northerly extent in August and their southerly extent in February. When a convective low acquires a well-hot circulation in the tropics it is termed a tropical cyclone. Tropical cyclones can form during any month of the year globally, but can occur in either the northern or southern hemisphere during December.

Atmospheric lift will also generally produce cloud cover through adiabatic cooling once the air becomes saturated as it rises, although the low-pressure area typically brings cloudy skies, which act to minimize diurnal temperature extremes. Since clouds reflect sunlight, incoming shortwave solar radiation decreases, which causes lower temperatures during the day. At night the absorptive effect of clouds on outgoing longwave radiation, such as heat energy from the surface, allows for warmer diurnal low temperatures in all seasons. The stronger the area of low pressure, the stronger the winds experienced in its vicinity. Globally, low-pressure systems are most frequently located over the Tibetan Plateau and in the lee of the Rocky mountains. In Europe (particularly in the British Isles and Netherlands), recurring low-pressure weather systems are typically known as "depressions".

MOPITT

MOPITT (Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere) is a payload scientific instrument launched into Earth orbit by NASA on board the Terra satellite in 1999. It is designed to monitor changes in pollution patterns and its effect in the lower atmosphere of the Earth. The instrument was funded by the Space Science Division of the Canadian Space Agency.

Nimbostratus cloud

A nimbostratus cloud or nimbostratus is a low, gray, often dark, amorphous, nearly uniform cloud that usually produces continuous rain, snow, or sleet and no lightning or thunder.Although it is usually a low-based cloud, it actually forms most commonly in the middle level of the troposphere and then spreads vertically into the low and high levels. Nimbostratus usually produces precipitation over a wide area.

Nimbo- is from the Latin word nimbus, which denotes precipitation.

Downward-growing nimbostratus can have the same vertical extent as most large upward-growing cumulus, but its horizontal extent tends to be even greater.

Outflow (meteorology)

Outflow, in meteorology, is air that flows outwards from a storm system. It is associated with ridging, or anticyclonic flow. In the low levels of the troposphere, outflow radiates from thunderstorms in the form of a wedge of rain-cooled air, which is visible as a thin rope-like cloud on weather satellite imagery or a fine line on weather radar imagery. Low-level outflow boundaries can disrupt the center of small tropical cyclones. However, outflow aloft is essential for the strengthening of a tropical cyclone. If this outflow is undercut, the tropical cyclone weakens. If two tropical cyclones are in proximity, the upper level outflow from the system to the west can limit the development of the system to the east.

Ozone depletion potential

The ozone depletion potential (ODP) of a chemical compound is the relative amount of degradation to the ozone layer it can cause, with trichlorofluoromethane (R-11 or CFC-11) being fixed at an ODP of 1.0. Chlorodifluoromethane (R-22), for example, has an ODP of 0.05. CFC 11, or R-11 has the maximum potential amongst chlorocarbons because of the presence of three chlorine atoms in the molecule.

The first proposal of ODP came from Wuebbles in 1983. It was defined as a measure of destructive effects of a substance compared to a reference substance.Precisely, ODP of a given substance is defined as the ratio of global loss of ozone due to the given substance to the global loss of ozone due to CFC-11 of the same mass.

ODP can be estimated from the molecular structure of a given substance. Chlorofluorocarbons have ODPs roughly equal to 1. Brominated substances have usually higher ODPs in range 5–15, because of more aggressive bromine reaction with ozone. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons have ODPs mostly in range 0.005 - 0.2 due to the presence of the hydrogen which causes them to react readily in the troposphere, therefore reducing their chance to reach the stratosphere where the ozone layer is present. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) have no chlorine content, so their ODP is essentially zero.

ODP is often used in conjunction with a compound's global warming potential (GWP) as a measure of how environmentally detrimental it can be. GWP represents the potential of a substance to contribute to global warming.In a broad sense, haloalkanes that contain no hydrogen are stable in the troposphere and decompose only in the stratosphere. Those compounds that contain hydrogen also react with OH radicals and can therefore be decomposed in the troposphere, as well. The ozone depletion potential increases with the heavier halogens since the C-X bond strength is lower. Note the trend of the CClF2-X series in the table below.

Polar vortex

A polar vortex is an upper-level low-pressure area lying near one of the Earth's poles. There are two polar vortices in the Earth's atmosphere, overlying the North and South Poles. Each polar vortex is a persistent, large-scale, low-pressure zone less than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) in diameter, that rotates counter-clockwise at the North Pole (called a cyclone) and clockwise at the South Pole, i.e., both polar vortices rotate eastward around the poles. As with other cyclones, their rotation is driven by the Coriolis effect. The bases of the two polar vortices are located in the middle and upper troposphere and extend into the stratosphere. Beneath that lies a large mass of cold, dense Arctic air.

The interface between the cold dry air mass of the pole and the warm moist air mass farther south defines the location of the polar front. The polar front is centered, roughly at 60° latitude. A polar vortex strengthens in the winter and weakens in the summer due to its dependence on the temperature difference between the equator and the poles.The vortices weaken and strengthen from year to year. When the vortex of the Arctic is strong, it is well defined, there is a single vortex, and the Arctic air is well contained; when weaker, which it generally is, it will break into two or more vortices; when very weak, the flow of Arctic air becomes more disorganized, and masses of cold Arctic air can push equatorward, bringing with them a rapid and sharp temperature drop. When the polar vortex is strong, there is a single vortex with a jet stream that is "well constrained" near the polar front. When the northern vortex weakens, it separates into two or more vortices, the strongest of which are near Baffin Island, Canada, and the other over northeast Siberia.The Antarctic vortex of the Southern Hemisphere is a single low-pressure zone that is found near the edge of the Ross ice shelf, near 160 west longitude. When the polar vortex is strong, the mid-latitude Westerlies (winds at the surface level between 30° and 60° latitude from the west) increase in strength and are persistent. When the polar vortex is weak, high-pressure zones of the mid-latitudes may push poleward, moving the polar vortex, jet stream, and polar front equatorward. The jet stream is seen to "buckle" and deviate south. This rapidly brings cold dry air into contact with the warm, moist air of the mid-latitudes, resulting in a rapid and dramatic change of weather known as a "cold snap".Ozone depletion occurs within the polar vortices – particularly over the Southern Hemisphere – reaching a maximum depletion in the spring.

Satellite temperature measurements

Satellite temperature measurements are inferences of the temperature of the atmosphere at various altitudes as well as sea and land surface temperatures obtained from radiometric measurements by satellites. These measurements can be used to locate weather fronts, monitor the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, determine the strength of tropical cyclones, study urban heat islands and monitor the global climate. Wildfires, volcanos, and industrial hot spots can also be found via thermal imaging from weather satellites.

Weather satellites do not measure temperature directly. They measure radiances in various wavelength bands. Since 1978 microwave sounding units (MSUs) on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration polar orbiting satellites have measured the intensity of upwelling microwave radiation from atmospheric oxygen, which is related to the temperature of broad vertical layers of the atmosphere. Measurements of infrared radiation pertaining to sea surface temperature have been collected since 1967.

Satellite datasets show that over the past four decades the troposphere has warmed and the stratosphere has cooled. Both of these trends are consistent with the influence of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Stratosphere

The stratosphere () is the second major layer of Earth's atmosphere, just above the troposphere, and below the mesosphere. The stratosphere is stratified (layered) in temperature, with warmer layers higher and cooler layers closer to the Earth; this increase of temperature with altitude is a result of the absorption of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation by the ozone layer. This is in contrast to the troposphere, near the Earth's surface, where temperature decreases with altitude. The border between the troposphere and stratosphere, the tropopause, marks where this temperature inversion begins. Near the equator, the stratosphere starts at as high as 20 km (66,000 ft; 12 mi), around 10 km (33,000 ft; 6.2 mi) at midlatitudes, and at about 7 km (23,000 ft; 4.3 mi) at the poles. Temperatures range from an average of −51 °C (−60 °F; 220 K) near the tropopause to an average of −15 °C (5.0 °F; 260 K) near the mesosphere. Stratospheric temperatures also vary within the stratosphere as the seasons change, reaching particularly low temperatures in the polar night (winter). Winds in the stratosphere can far exceed those in the troposphere, reaching near 60 m/s (220 km/h; 130 mph) in the Southern polar vortex.

Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) is a series of remote sensing satellite instruments used to study the chemical composition of earth's atmosphere. Specifically, SAGE has been used to study the Earth's ozone layer and aerosols at the troposphere through the stratosphere. The SAGE instruments use solar occultation measurement technique to determine chemical concentrations in the atmosphere. Solar occultation measurement technique measures sunlight through the atmosphere and ratios that measurement with a sunlight measurement without atmospheric attenuation. This is achieved by observing sunrises and sunsets during a satellite orbit. Physically, the SAGE instruments measure ultraviolet/visible energy and this is converted via algorithms to determine chemical concentrations. SAGE data has been used to study the atmospheres aerosols, ozone, water vapor, and other trace gases.

Tropopause

The tropopause is the boundary in the Earth's atmosphere between the troposphere and the stratosphere. It is a thermodynamic gradient stratification layer, marking the end of troposphere. It lies, on average, at 17 kilometres (11 mi) above equatorial regions, and above 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) over the polar regions.

Troposphere (rocket family)

Troposphere is a Congolese rocket family first established in 2007 at private enterprise Développement Tous Azimuts (DTA). Project is managed by Jean-Patrice Keka Ohemba Okese, head of DTA, a graduate of the Institut Supérieur des Techniques Appliquées (ISTA). The program aimed at launching experimental rockets that would not exceed an altitude of 36 km. The launch site is located in an area owned by DTA at Menkao, 120 km East of Kinshasa.The program was financed by DTA at the beginning, but after success of the Troposphere 2 and 4 rockets project gained government support.

Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer

Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer or TES was a satellite instrument designed to measure the state of the earth's troposphere.

Tropospheric ozone

Ozone (O3) is a trace gas of the troposphere, with an average concentration of 20-30 parts per billion by volume (ppbv), with close to 100 ppbv in polluted areas. Ozone is also an important constituent of the stratosphere, where the ozone layer exists. The troposphere is the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere. It extends from the ground up to a variable height of approximately 14 kilometers above sea level. Ozone is least concentrated in the ground layer (or planetary boundary layer) of the troposphere. It's concentration increases as height above sea level increases, with a maximum concentration at the tropopause. About 90% of total ozone in the atmosphere is in the stratosphere, and 10% is in the troposphere. Although tropospheric ozone is less concentrated than stratospheric ozone, it is of concern because of its health effects. Ozone in the troposphere is considered a greenhouse gas, and may contribute to global warming.Photo-chemical and chemical reactions involving ozone drive many of the chemical processes that occur in the troposphere by day and by night. At abnormally high concentrations (the largest source being emissions from combustion of fossil fuels), it is a pollutant, and a constituent of smog.Photolysis of ozone occurs at wavelengths below approximately 310-320 nano-meters. This reaction initiates the chain of chemical reactions that remove carbon monoxide, methane, and other hydrocarbons from the atmosphere via oxidation. Therefore, the concentration of tropospheric ozone affects how long these compounds remain in the air. If the oxidation of carbon monoxide or methane occur in the presence of nitrogen monoxide (NO), this chain of reactions has a net product of ozone added to the system.

Tropospheric propagation

Tropospheric propagation describes electromagnetic propagation in relation to the troposphere.

The service area from a VHF or UHF radio transmitter extends to just beyond the optical horizon, at which point signals start to rapidly reduce in strength. Viewers living in such a "deep fringe" reception area will notice that during certain conditions, weak signals normally masked by noise increase in signal strength to allow quality reception. Such conditions are related to the current state of the troposphere.

Tropospheric propagated signals travel in the part of the atmosphere adjacent to the surface and extending to some 25,000 feet (7,620 m). Such signals are thus directly affected by weather conditions extending over some hundreds of miles. During very settled, warm anticyclonic weather (i.e., high pressure), usually weak signals from distant transmitters improve in strength. Another symptom during such conditions may be interference to the local transmitter resulting in co-channel interference, usually horizontal lines or an extra floating picture with analog broadcasts and break-up with digital broadcasts. A settled high-pressure system gives the characteristic conditions for enhanced tropospheric propagation, in particular favouring signals which travel along the prevailing isobar pattern (rather than across it). Such weather conditions can occur at any time, but generally the summer and autumn months are the best periods. In certain favourable locations, enhanced tropospheric propagation may enable reception of ultra high frequency (UHF) TV signals up to 1,000 miles (1,600 km) or more.

The observable characteristics of such high-pressure systems are usually clear, cloudless days with little or no wind. At sunset the upper air cools, as does the surface temperature, but at different rates. This produces a boundary or temperature gradient, which allows an inversion level to form – a similar effect occurs at sunrise. The inversion is capable of allowing very high frequency (VHF) and UHF signal propagation well beyond the normal radio horizon distance.

The inversion effectively reduces sky wave radiation from a transmitter – normally VHF and UHF signals travel on into space when they reach the horizon, the refractive index of the ionosphere preventing signal return. With temperature inversion, however, the signal is to a large extent refracted over the horizon rather than continuing along a direct path into outer space.

Fog also produces good tropospheric results, again due to inversion effects. Fog occurs during high-pressure weather, and if such conditions result in a large belt of fog with clear sky above, there will be heating of the upper fog level and thus an inversion. This situation often arises towards night fall, continues overnight and clears with the sunrise over a period of around 4 – 5 hours.

Tropospheric scatter

Tropospheric scatter (also known as troposcatter) is a method of communicating with microwave radio signals over considerable distances – often up to 300 kilometres (190 mi), and further depending on terrain and climate factors. This method of propagation uses the tropospheric scatter phenomenon, where radio waves at UHF and SHF frequencies are randomly scattered as they pass through the upper layers of the troposphere. Radio signals are transmitted in a narrow beam aimed just above the horizon in the direction of the receiver station. As the signals pass through the troposphere, some of the energy is scattered back toward the Earth, allowing the receiver station to pick up the signal.Normally, signals in the microwave frequency range travel in straight lines, and so are limited to line of sight applications, in which the receiver can be 'seen' by the transmitter. Communication distances are limited by the visual horizon to around 30–40 miles (48–64 km). Troposcatter allows microwave communication beyond the horizon. It was developed in the 1950s and used for military communications until communications satellites largely replaced it in the 1970s.

Because the troposphere is turbulent and has a high proportion of moisture the tropospheric scatter radio signals are refracted and consequently only a tiny proportion of the radio energy is collected by the receiving antennas. Frequencies of transmission around 2 GHz are best suited for tropospheric scatter systems as at this frequency the wavelength of the signal interacts well with the moist, turbulent areas of the troposphere, improving signal to noise ratios.

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