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The troposphere is the layer of the atmosphere closest to the surface, with a temperature gradient that cools with altitude.

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Discovering Atmospheric Layers

Discovering Atmospheric Layers

Credit: US Navy
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavy/5980695491/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Leon Teisserenc de Bort discovered the lower two layers of the atmosphere using unmanned balloons. Today, the United States Navy also uses weather balloons to gather data.

Why It Matters

Credit: United States Navy
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Transosonde.png
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Weather balloon experimented with in 1958 to track nuclear fallout paths [Figure2]

  • Leon Teisserenc de Bort was a French meteorologist who pioneered the use of instrumented balloons in the late 19th century.
  • Balloonists earlier had reported that the temperature of the atmosphere decreased at a rate of 0.6°C per 100 meters.
  • de Bort sent instruments up in balloons higher than manned balloons had gone.
  • The instruments saw that the change in atmospheric temperature did not continue forever upward.

Explore More

With the links below, learn more about the discovery of the layers of the atmosphere. Then answer the following questions:

  1. What feature caused de Bort to separate the lower atmosphere from the upper atmosphere?
  2. What did de Bort describe as the features of the lower atmosphere?
  3. What did he name the lower atmosphere and why?
  4. What did he name the upper atmosphere (as much as he could see) and why?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: US Navy; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavy/5980695491/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: United States Navy; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Transosonde.png; License: CC BY-NC 3.0


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