Composition of the atmosphere – Geography Notes PDF in English & Hindi for UPSC and Other Competitive Exams

Composition of the atmosphere: The composition of the atmosphere is not uniform throughout the entire vertical extent, with variations in temperature, pressure, and humidity at different altitudes. Additionally, human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, have led to increased levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which have contributed to global climate change.

Understanding the composition of the atmosphere is essential for studying atmospheric processes, climate science, and air quality management. It also provides valuable insights into the environmental and ecological factors that affect the planet and all living organisms.

Composition of the atmosphere

The Earth’s atmosphere is composed of a mixture of gases that envelop the planet, providing the air we breathe and playing a crucial role in supporting life and influencing the planet’s climate. The composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, by volume, consists primarily of the following gases:

  • Nitrogen (N2): Nitrogen is the most abundant gas in the Earth’s atmosphere, making up approximately 78% of the volume. It is an essential element for life and is a fundamental component of amino acids and proteins.
  • Oxygen (O2): Oxygen is the second most abundant gas, comprising about 21% of the atmosphere. It is vital for the respiration of most living organisms, including humans, as it is used in the process of converting food into energy.
  • Argon (Ar): Argon is a noble gas and makes up about 0.93% of the atmosphere by volume. It is chemically inert and does not react with other substances.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2): Carbon dioxide is present in trace amounts, making up about 0.04% of the atmosphere. It plays a critical role in the greenhouse effect, which helps regulate the Earth’s temperature.
  • Neon (Ne), Helium (He), Krypton (Kr), and Xenon (Xe): These noble gases, along with argon, are present in minuscule quantities, making up a total of about 0.001% of the atmosphere. They are chemically inert.
  • Trace Gases: The remaining components of the atmosphere, including water vapor, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), ozone (O3), and various other trace gases, make up a tiny fraction of the atmosphere. These gases, although present in small quantities, play essential roles in atmospheric processes, climate regulation, and life support.
  • Water Vapor (H2O): Water vapor is highly variable in the atmosphere and can range from near-zero in extremely dry conditions to around 4% by volume in humid environments. It is a significant greenhouse gas and influences weather and climate patterns.

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By Team Learning Mantras