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Chapter 7: Atmospheric Processes

Difficulty Level: Basic Created by: CK-12


How can Earth's atmosphere be in constant motion?

Stand outside on a windy day and it's easy to see that Earth is a dynamic planet. But being dynamic requires energy. Where does that energy come from? In the atmosphere, it comes from the Sun. Solar energy provides the power needed for the atmosphere to move.

Chapter Outline

Chapter Summary


The layers of the atmosphere are divided by their temperature gradients. The lowest layer is the troposphere. All weather takes place in this layer. The next layer is the stratosphere. The stratosphere contains the protective ozone layer. More sunlight strikes at the Equator than at the poles. This is what drives the global winds. Warm air rises, moves poleward, and then sinks when it meets with air moving toward the Equator. The result is six atmospheric circulation cells around the world. There are three cells in each hemisphere. Pollutants enter the atmosphere from a few sources. The most important is fossil fuel burning. Air pollution has bad effects on the environment and on human health. By reducing fossil fuel use we can make the environment cleaner. When ozone depletion was found to be a problem, the world acted. As a result, the ozone hole has stabilized. The hole will be getting smaller over the next decades.

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Date Created:

Aug 10, 2015

Last Modified:

Sep 10, 2015
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