In the image of Earth from a 100,000 ft on this site you can see abruptly divided layers of the atmosphere in different shades of blue. What are they, why do they have different shades and why can't we discern them from within the atmosphere like this?

I guess the lowermost, light-blue layer is the atmosphere below the ozone layer, up to around 50,000 ft (15 km), essentially the troposphere and the tropopause. UV radiation is being blocked by the ozone layer above. The darker blue layer above then is probably the ozone layer, from 50,000 to ~115,000 ft (35 km); the abrupt change in color is due to the captured UV radiation I guess. The very dark blue-going-black area above it would be the area above the ozone layer, consisting of the uppermost part of the stratosphere, of the mesosphere aso.

Are these abrupt changes in color really due to the ozone layer or is there a different reason, and why can't we recognize these different shades from within the atmosphere, but from space only?

  • $\begingroup$ I don't have a full answer, just a few thrown together bullet points: 1. The cloud tops can maximally reach up to the tropopause, but with that image it's hard to see where the ground would be. 2. You could do the extra work and determine the scale of the picture using the curvature of Earth. 3. The blueness of the sky is Rayleigh-scattering, that stuff that you see when you have a blue sky while being inside the atmosphere. 4. I don't know about the scattering properties of $O_3$, but its relative mixing ratio at the stratospheric Temperature maximum is about $10^{-10}$, so probably not WYSE. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2021 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ @AtmosphericPrisonEscape We dunno if the curvature would really appear that strong or if the camera lens made it appear stronger perhaps. The blueness of the sky in the image has different shades, hence my question why there are such abrupt shade borders rather than gradually becoming a darker blue and transiently merging with the blackness of space. What's causing the abrupt borders and why? $\endgroup$
    – Giovanni
    Nov 23, 2021 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ "Image taken by Space Perspective’s test flight vehicle, Neptune One, at 100,000 feet." You can use that information to determine whether your curvature radius is correct. Yes, I understand the question, I merely said that I don't have an answer, but it's probably not Ozone. A possibility for the fine-structure are gravity waves, as also seen in Plutos $N_2$-rich atmosphere, see web.gps.caltech.edu/~rls/pluto/… $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2021 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ @AtmosphericPrisonEscape Here's another image from 100K ft. upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/… Again we see the three different shades, and this time the horizon looks almost flat. $\endgroup$
    – Giovanni
    Nov 23, 2021 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ Or here: external-preview.redd.it/… The typical shades are visible from near-space. $\endgroup$
    – Giovanni
    Nov 23, 2021 at 15:47


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