The troposphere provides several important benefits: it holds nearly all of the water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere, regulates temperature and produces weather. The troposphere forms the lowest level of the Earth's atmosphere, extending down to the surface of the Earth. This layer also features the heaviest weight of all Earth atmosphere layers, comprising approximately 75 percent of the total atmospheric weight.
The troposphere varies in thickness and height around the world. At its highest point, the troposphere extends 12 miles into the air. At its lowest point, this layer reaches 4 miles above sea level. Regardless of height, the troposphere facilitates temperature regulation and cloud formation. It contains the highest temperatures closer to its base; these warm temperatures help the troposphere retain water vapor, which releases in the form of precipitation.
The troposphere also serves as the starting point for the Earth's water cycle. This process begins when the sun pulls water into the atmosphere through evaporation. Water then cools and condenses, forming clouds. Clouds store water particles, which release in the form of rain, sleet or snow depending on time of year and region. The troposphere also traps gases, such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Excess accumulation of these substances creates environmental problems, such as smog and air pollution.