The Troposphere - overview

The Troposphere - overview

This diagram shows some of the features of the troposphere.
Credit: Randy Russell, UCAR

The troposphere is the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere. Most of the mass (about 75-80%) of the atmosphere is in the troposphere. Most types of clouds are found in the troposphere, and almost all weather occurs within this layer.

The bottom of the troposphere is at Earth's surface. The troposphere extends upward to about 10 km (6.2 miles or about 33,000 feet) above sea level. The height of the top of the troposphere varies with latitude (it is lowest over the poles and highest at the equator) and by season (it is lower in winter and higher in summer). It can be as high as 20 km (12 miles or 65,000 feet) near the equator, and as low as 7 km (4 miles or 23,000 feet) over the poles in winter.

Air is warmest at the bottom of the troposphere near ground level. Air gets colder as one rises through the troposphere. That's why the peaks of tall mountains can be snow-covered even in the summertime.

Air pressure and the density of the air also decrease with altitude. That's why the cabins of high-flying jet aircraft are pressurized.

The layer immediately above the troposphere is called the stratosphere. The boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere is called the "tropopause".

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