Between 0 and 4 percent of the Earth's atmosphere is made up of water vapor. The amount of water vapor present in the atmosphere, also known as humidity, is the most variable characteristic of the atmosphere and is largely dependent on air temperature.Continue Reading
At 86 degrees Fahrenheit, a volume of air can hold up to 4 percent water vapor. At minus 40 F, air can hold no more than 0.2 percent water vapor.
Water vapor enters the atmosphere by way of evaporation from the Earth's surface. When a volume of air holds the maximum amount of water vapor possible for a given temperature, it is said to be saturated and has a relative humidity of 100 percent.Learn more about Atmosphere
Clouds serve as reflectors of incoming solar radiation, also called insolation, which is the short-wave radiated energy from the sun that propagates through the Earth's atmosphere. However, the extent to which an individual cloud reflects insolation depends on its thickness, as thin clouds reflect less insolation than thick clouds.Full Answer >
In addition to providing the oxygen and carbon dioxide necessary to support life on Earth, the atmosphere also blocks harmful radiation from the sun and traps heat to make the surface of the planet habitable. Without the atmosphere, the Earth's environment would resemble that of the moon.Full Answer >
The thermosphere is a layer of the Earth's atmosphere situated directly above the mesosphere and below the exosphere. The thermosphere performs several important functions, such as temperature regulation and filtering powerful X-rays and ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun. The thermosphere has the unique ability to expand to absorb heat and contains a diverse range of temperatures throughout its different layers.Full Answer >
According to the University of Michigan, the primitive Earth did not have an atmosphere until gases were released from the planet's interior. Fast-moving gases and massive volcanic eruptions led to the creation of two distinct yet equally important atmospheric layers.Full Answer >