Atmosphere

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According to How Stuff Works, the ozone layer works by ultraviolet light breaking apart oxygen molecules and then reforming them as ozone. Ozone converts the dangerous ultraviolet rays into harmless heat. With an adequate supply of ozone and oxygen, the ozone layer will absorb approximately 98 percent of incoming ultraviolet rays.

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  • What Are Three Greenhouse Gases?

    Q: What Are Three Greenhouse Gases?

    A: Three greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Greenhouse gases rise up into the atmosphere and envelop the Earth, causing the planet to warm up. The increase in average temperatures around the world is called global warming.
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  • How Do Hurricanes Occur?

    Q: How Do Hurricanes Occur?

    A: A hurricane is a severe kind of tropical cyclone, which is a low-pressure system with defined wind circulation that occurs over the tropics. During a hurricane, sustained winds reach speeds of 74 mph or higher, while air pressure in the center of the cyclone drops, and the Coriolis force causes these winds to spiral counterclockwise.
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  • Where Do Thunderstorms Form?

    Q: Where Do Thunderstorms Form?

    A: Thunderstorms originate in cumulonimbus clouds. Warm, humid air rises then cools, creating moisture to form the cloud. Thunderstorms produce heavy rain, strong winds and sometimes hail.
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  • Where Does Oxygen We Breathe Come From?

    Q: Where Does Oxygen We Breathe Come From?

    A: Green plants produce the oxygen that humans and other animals require for life. Plants produce this oxygen via photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants create their own food. Oxygen is a by-product of the process of photosynthesis.
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  • Where Do Clouds Come From?

    Q: Where Do Clouds Come From?

    A: Clouds come from small liquid droplets or frozen crystals of water and float in the atmosphere above the surface of Earth, or any other planet known to have a gas in the atmosphere.
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  • What Are the Three Major Wind Belts?

    Q: What Are the Three Major Wind Belts?

    A: The three major wind belts, also known as circulations, are the Hadley cell, the Ferrel cell and the Polar cell. The circulation of these winds is caused by the rotation of the earth and the energy of the sun.
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  • What Happens When Hot Air Meets Cold Air?

    Q: What Happens When Hot Air Meets Cold Air?

    A: When hot and cold air meet, the warm air rises above the cool air, creating a low pressure zone. Warm air tends to cool as it reaches higher elevations, with the liquid in it condensing and forming clouds and rain. Cool air rushes in to fill the low pressure zone, pushing more warm air up and creating a cycle that can result in high winds and storms.
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  • Why Does the Atmosphere Become Less Dense As Altitude Increases?

    Q: Why Does the Atmosphere Become Less Dense As Altitude Increases?

    A: The atmosphere becomes less dense as altitude increases because there is less weight on the air molecules, making them less compressed. The air at lower altitudes is denser because it is pressed down by the weight of all the air molecules above. Also, the further away air molecules are from the Earth, the less weight they have because of a lower gravitational pull.
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  • What Are the Stages of the Water Cycle?

    Q: What Are the Stages of the Water Cycle?

    A: The stages of the water cycle are evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection. The water cycle is energized by the sun's energy and requires the attractive force of gravity.
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  • What Are the Steps of the Convection Cycle in Earth's Atmosphere?

    Q: What Are the Steps of the Convection Cycle in Earth's Atmosphere?

    A: According to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, convection refers to the distribution of heat through vertical motions of air. Different surfaces absorb different amounts of energy and convection occurs where a particular surface heats up rapidly. Convection includes both large- and small-scale rising and sinking of air masses and smaller air parcels.
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  • Which Types of Gases Did the Early Atmosphere Primarily Contain?

    Q: Which Types of Gases Did the Early Atmosphere Primarily Contain?

    A: Earth's atmosphere has gone through multiple distinct phases throughout its life, from a hydrogen-rich early period to the modern oxidizing chemistry. The first atmosphere Earth had was chemically very similar to the composition of the primordial dust and gas cloud from which the solar system formed. This chemistry can be seen in some asteroids, and it is a combination of hydrogen, helium and complex organic molecules.
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  • Where Do You See the Northern Lights?

    Q: Where Do You See the Northern Lights?

    A: Under normal circumstances, the northern lights occur in a narrow band around 10 to 20 degrees of latitude from the North Pole. In North America, this restricts their range to parts of Alaska, northwest Canada and Greenland. In Europe, Norway and parts of Siberia also experience the northern lights on occasion. However, changes in the Earth's geomagnetic field and solar activity can alter the range and activity of the aurorae.
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  • Where Is the Ozone Layer Located?

    Q: Where Is the Ozone Layer Located?

    A: The ozone layer is located in the stratosphere, a region of the atmosphere that is about 10 to 50 kilometers above the Earth. The stratosphere consists of approximately 90 percent ozone. Ozone has the chemical formula O3.
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  • What Can We Do to Prevent Ozone Depletion?

    Q: What Can We Do to Prevent Ozone Depletion?

    A: According to Green Diary, ozone depletion can be prevented by limiting the use of private vehicles, making use of eco-friendly cleaning products for the home, avoiding the use of pesticides and banning the use of nitrous oxide. The main cause of ozone depletion is the use of man-made halocarbon refrigerants including freons, halons and CFCs.
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  • Why Is There Wind?

    Q: Why Is There Wind?

    A: 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.
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  • Why Does the Sky Change Colors?

    Q: Why Does the Sky Change Colors?

    A: There are many proximate causes for changes to the color of the sky, but they all involve the way light is diffracted through the air. Light from the sun can be bent as it moves through the Earth's atmosphere, and the wavelengths of light that are able to pass most easily through the air give the sky its color.
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  • Why Is the Coolest Time of Day Just Before Sunrise?

    Q: Why Is the Coolest Time of Day Just Before Sunrise?

    A: According to USA Today, the coldest time of the day comes just before sunrise because the earth has had all night to expel the heat from the previous day into the atmosphere. As soon as the sun begins to rise, the earth will immediately begin to heat up once again.
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  • What Is the Hottest Layer of the Atmosphere?

    Q: What Is the Hottest Layer of the Atmosphere?

    A: The thermosphere is the hottest layer of the atmosphere. It extends from 80 kilometers above the surface of the Earth up to 600 kilometers and can heat up to 1,500 degrees Celsius because it’s very sensitive to solar activity. The air is thin and extremely hot, and there are sparse air molecules in this layer.
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  • Who Discovered the Greenhouse Effect?

    Q: Who Discovered the Greenhouse Effect?

    A: In 1824, Joseph Fourier was the first to argue for the existence of the greenhouse effect. Svante Arrhenius fully quantified the greenhouse effect in 1896.
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  • What Is the Climate of the Atacama Desert?

    Q: What Is the Climate of the Atacama Desert?

    A: The Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest desert in the world. Average rainfall totals 0.59 inches per year, but some weather stations placed there have never received rain, and historical evidence suggests the desert may have experienced no rainfall at all from 1570 to 1971. Daytime temperatures average between 32 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and nighttime temperatures can drop to 10 to 15 degrees below zero.
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  • What Is an Urban Heat Island?

    Q: What Is an Urban Heat Island?

    A: An urban heat island is an elevation in the temperature of outdoor urban air during the daytime. This is a result of man-made structures, such as buildings and roads, that have replaced outdoor vegetation, such as trees. As a result, more heat is absorbed, and the temperature is warmer.
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