In dry air that does not contain pollution, the predominant gas is nitrogen, which makes up 78 percent of the atmosphere. The next two most voluminous gases are oxygen (21 percent) and argon (1 percent). Other gases appearing in trace amounts include carbon dioxide.
The air naturally contains water vapor as well. The proportion of water vapor in the area varies widely between different areas, depending on the climate.
Human activity has had a significant impact on the gases in the atmosphere, particularly through the burning of fuels and the production of pollutant gases. Burning fossil fuels sends a great deal of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Other gases that enter the atmosphere as pollution include sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxides. When fuels do not burn completely, they send solid particles, as with carbon, directly into the air, causing a dirty film to form on buildings and on the inside of lungs.
Carbon monoxide is one of the most toxic by-products among these pollutants. Inhaling carbon monoxide can lead to death. However, the other pollutants also are caustic to the environment; sulfur dioxide leads to acid rain, which can maim or even kill crops, trees and other plants.Learn More
The barometer is a tool that measures air pressure. Barometers are calibrated for a specific unit, that displays the current air pressure of the environment that the tool is exposed to.Full Answer >
Jet streams are areas of high winds that flow in a westerly direction on Earth. Occurring about 7 miles above the surface of the Earth, the jet streams do not take a consistent path because the flow of wind moves about slightly, altering the weather patterns as it does so. At times, slivers of wind may break away from the main flow and only rejoin the jet stream later.Full Answer >
According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, wind exists because of the movement of air and the differences in air pressure within the atmosphere. When high-pressure air moves toward low-pressure air, the difference in pressure leads to a faster air current or stronger wind.Full Answer >
The greenhouse effect is easily explained to kids by comparing Earth to a greenhouse full of plants. The glass of a greenhouse traps heat and allows the plants inside to stay warm all year long, while Earth's atmosphere has gases that act the same as the glass of a greenhouse and trap warmth close to the planet's surface.Full Answer >