How are atmospheric layers named once they have been discovered?

  • $\begingroup$ Just to make sure: You are asking for the persons/institutions who gave the names to the atmospheric layer? Thus, you do not want to know what their names mean (you probably know it) but who gave it? $\endgroup$ Apr 1, 2016 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ I was thinking more along the lines of why a specific name is chosen. If there is an institution that selects the names, that would be an interesting point, but why do they chose a particular name for a given layer? I would guess that there is some correlation between the meaning of the name and the properties of the layer. $\endgroup$ Apr 1, 2016 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


Who gave the names Troposphere and Stratosphere

The stratosphere was firstly discovered by Léon-Philippe Teisserenc de Bort and Richard Aßmann (they did not cooperate) around 1900. Teisserenc de Bort denoted that layer as 'zone isotherme' in his publication on his discovery. However, he published in French. I remember to have read somewhere - not sure where - that he gave the two names 'troposphere' and 'stratosphere' to the two lower layers after discovering the existence of a quite distinct second layer. Unfortunately, I do not find the reference anymore. In the article Hoinka (1997) you will find some information about the discovery of the stratosphere.

What the Names mean


tropos (greek): turn(ing)

Turbulent mixing is relevant in this layer of the atmosphere => Turbulent Mixing Sphere => Troposphere


stratum (latin): something which covers something else (pavement, blanket)

This layer of the atmosphere, which is not dominated by turbulent mixing, covers the lower turbulent layer => Covering Sphere => Stratosphere


mesos (greek): middle This part of the atmosphere is the third of five (from humans defined) layers of the atmosphere => Layer in the middle (not by distance/height but by counting layers) => Mesosphere


thermos (greek): warm, heat

This layer can be heated to above 1000 °C by the sun. However, it does not feel 'warm' because of the low 'air' density. => Heated/hot layer => Thermosphere


éxo (greek): outside, external

This layer is the most outward located layer of the atmosphere. => At the outer side located => Exosphere


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