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Atmosphere for Aviation

in Aviation Blog, Weather

Composition of the Atmosphere


Atmosphere and the weather associated with it are of the utmost importance for any aviator to study. Every science book carries the basic composition of the atmosphere and can be consulted to find out the exact composition of the gases that make up the atmosphere. Oxygen and nitrogen are the main components of the atmosphere that surround the earth. However, there are certain phenomena related to atmosphere that are of significance for the pilots, and need to be studied in detail by every person who intends to take an airplane up in the skies for flying.

The Atmospheric Variables

It is mostly the variations in certain parameters of the atmosphere that are of interest to an aviator; these changes and the resulting weather are the main topics of study for any Flyer. Variations in temperatures, pressures, water content, and the density of the air need to be understood fully in order to interpret the weather and forecast all possibilities. Almost all the weather is due to the changes in temperatures and pressures over different areas; this determines the wind circulation around the Earth, and the amount and method of precipitation exchange in the atmosphere.

The Water Cycle

Water is something that is present in the atmosphere in all three states of the matter simultaneously; it can be solid in the shape of ice, liquid as water, and gaseous as water vapors. There is a complete water cycle through which the amount of precipitation is rotated in the atmosphere; it starts with evaporation of water from the surface of the Earth, then comes formation of clouds, and subsequently fall of the rains and ice back to the surface. This cycle through which water and precipitation is exchanged from one form to the other in the atmosphere is known as the Water Cycle. The presence of dust and other solid particles act as condensing nuclei for the water vapors that form due to evaporation from water bodies and moist surfaces because of the solar heat and radiation. The condensation forms the clouds that contain large amounts of water, sometimes in all three states together. The evaporated water bodies are replenished through the rains, ice, snow, and sleet that fall when the conditions are right; thus, the Water Cycle is completed.

Structure of the Atmosphere

The atmosphere has been categorized into different layers, with each layer having distinct characteristics. The immediate layer of the atmosphere that surrounds the Earth is the Troposphere; this layer holds almost all the water content of the atmosphere. The Troposphere is also the layer where nearly all the weather phenomena that affect the earth take place. The topmost boundary of the Troposphere is the Tropopause. The height of the Tropopause over the Earth is not uniform; generally, it is higher over warm areas. Since all the flying is done within the confines of the troposphere, therefore pilots are more concerned with the study of this layer. The other upper layers of the atmosphere are the Stratosphere, Stratopause, Mesosphere, Mesopause, and the Thermosphere. These layers extend upwards of 200 kilometers from the surface of the Earth, and the Thermosphere may have a temperature close to 600 degrees Celsius.

 

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