The Earth's Atmosphere

Key words:

Preferential scattering

Electromagnetic radiation

Ionising radiation

Refraction

Reflection

Meteoroids

Absorption

I hope this is a useful resource for you, please comment if I have made any mistakes or if there is anything I should add. I shall also search through the internet to find some webpages and videos on this topic. :)

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  • The Earth's Atmosphere
    • Advantages
      • It absorbs harmful solar ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer, and accelerate the skin's natural aging process.
      • It absorbs harmful, high frequency X-rays and gamma-rays from space, preventing them from reaching the ground.
      • It regulates the temperature, thus allowing water to exist in its liquid form.
      • It provides us with oxygen, that organisms need for aerobic respiration.
      • It partially protects us from meteoroids, the majority of them are burnt up due to friction as the pass through the atmosphere, before reaching the ground. Many are visible as meteors or 'shooting stars'
    • Disadvantadges
      • As it has a different optical density to space, it causes light to refract. Therefore stars 'twinkle' and restrict the resolution of an image.
      • The preferential scattering of the shorter wavelengths of the sunlight due to the gas molecules in the atmosphere make the sky to appear blue, thus preventing astronomers from making observations during the day.
      • The absorption and reflection of the majority of electromagnetic radiation from space, preventing most wavelengths from reaching sea level. Therefore most ultra-violet, X-ray and gamma-ray observatories to be placed on Earth orbiting satellites.
  • Composition
    • The Earth's Atmosphere
      • Advantages
        • It absorbs harmful solar ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer, and accelerate the skin's natural aging process.
        • It absorbs harmful, high frequency X-rays and gamma-rays from space, preventing them from reaching the ground.
        • It regulates the temperature, thus allowing water to exist in its liquid form.
        • It provides us with oxygen, that organisms need for aerobic respiration.
        • It partially protects us from meteoroids, the majority of them are burnt up due to friction as the pass through the atmosphere, before reaching the ground. Many are visible as meteors or 'shooting stars'
      • Disadvantadges
        • As it has a different optical density to space, it causes light to refract. Therefore stars 'twinkle' and restrict the resolution of an image.
        • The preferential scattering of the shorter wavelengths of the sunlight due to the gas molecules in the atmosphere make the sky to appear blue, thus preventing astronomers from making observations during the day.
        • The absorption and reflection of the majority of electromagnetic radiation from space, preventing most wavelengths from reaching sea level. Therefore most ultra-violet, X-ray and gamma-ray observatories to be placed on Earth orbiting satellites.
    • Nitrogen 78%
    • Oxygen 21%
    • Carbon dioxide 0.004%
    • Other gases: mostly water vapour and noble gases

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