Earth Science

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Earth’s Dimensions Unit: Layers of the Atmosphere & Earth’s Interior

INTRODUCTION: The Earth’s atmosphere is divided into 4 layers. There is a boundary where each layer ends and a new one begins and a name is given to this boundary – a pause.

Distinct temperature differences are found within each layer. For example, at the stratopause, the temperature stops increasing with altitude. The overlying mesosphere does not absorb solar radiation, so the temperature decreases with altitude. At the mesopause, the temperature begins to increase with altitude, and this trend continues in the thermosphere. Because the atmosphere in the thermosphere is so thin, a thermometer cannot be used to measure the temperature accurately and special instruments are needed.

The Earth interior is divided into 4 layers. The properties of the Earth’s interior have been inferred primarily from earthquake waves. Distinct characteristics are found within each layer such as density, temperature, and pressure.

OBJECTIVE: In this lab, you will plot the temperatures in the atmosphere to gain further practice with graphing. You will familiarize yourself with the different layers of the atmosphere and the different layers of the Earth’s interior as well as become more familiar with using the Earth Science Reference Tables.

MATERIALS REQUIRED: Earth Science Reference Tables, colored pencils

PROCEDURE A:

Part 1 - Table 1 contains the average temperature readings at various altitudes in the Earth’s atmosphere. Plot this data on the graph provided and then connect the adjacent points with a solid line.

Table 1

|Altitude (km) |Temperature (°C) | |Altitude (km) |Temperature (°C) | |0 |15 | |65 |-33 | |5 |-18 | |70 |-54 | |12 |-55 | |75 |-65 | |25 |-51 | |80 |-90 | |35 |-37 | |89 |-60 | |45 |-8 | |95 |-24 | |50 |0 | |99 |-1 | |55 |-7 | |100 |10 |

This data provides a general picture of temperature conditions in the atmosphere; at any given time and place.

The actual temperature may deviate from the average values, particularly in the lower atmosphere.

Part 2 –

a) Label the different layers of the atmosphere and the separating boundaries between each layer. Refer to page 14 in the Earth Science Reference Tables “Selected Properties of Earth’s Atmosphere” for assistance.

b) The ozone layer is located in the lower stratosphere. Mark the general location of the ozone layer by writing the words “OZONE LAYER” on your graph in the appropriate location.

c) Using a blue colored pencil, shade the layer where water vapor is found.

d) Answer Discussion Questions 1 – 9 for the Atmosphere on the Report Sheet.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Answer questions on the Report Sheet (Use sentences where appropriate)

1. What is the basis for dividing the...
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