Questions tagged [atmosphere]

The gaseous envelope surrounding the *Earth*, and retained by the Earth's gravitational field. If your question is about the atmosphere on another celestial body or is more astronomy related, please ask on Astronomy.SE.

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How do 'greenhouse gases' let heat in, but not let it out?

That honestly doesn't make any sense to me. How could heat pass through a gas one way but not the other? Its not like our upper atmostphere has a bunch of doors that can only open one way. To me, that ...
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44 votes
2 answers
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(How long) would Earth's atmosphere last without a global magnetic field?

The Earth's magnetic field provides an important protection against the solar wind (for example, see Wikipedia on Earth's magnetic field and references therein). Mars may have lost its atmosphere ...
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What would be the temperature of earth if there was no atmosphere?

I do know that the atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention (greenhouse effect),and reducing temperature extremes between ...
Praveen Kadambari's user avatar
37 votes
4 answers
3k views

How does anthropogenic heating affect global warming?

Anthropogenic-sourced greenhouse gases are commonly cited as the main source for human-caused climate change. However, something that I never see discussed is the actual heat produced by human ...
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Similarities between grand circulation solvers and mantle convection solvers

My impression is that both ocean grand circulation models (e.g. MITgcm), and Mantle Convection models (e.g. CitcomS), both use Navier-Stoke's as the governing equation. What are the other major ...
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6 answers
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Why aren't weather balloons left in the atmosphere permanently?

I was reading about weather balloons and the articles said that weather balloon flights usually last about two hours. When I looked up why, some articles said that when the balloons get high enough in ...
user11937382's user avatar
28 votes
2 answers
3k views

Why does El Niño only exist in the Pacific Ocean and not the Atlantic/Indian Oceans?

El Niño is associated with the weakening of the ‘normal’ pressure/temperature gradients between the western and eastern Pacific Oceans. My question is this: why does it only exist in the Pacific ...
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What is the steepest surface that can hold snow?

I know it depends on the type of snow (dry or wet) and the rougness of the surface. I'm looking for an approximate rule of thumb answer. Assuming a reasonably smooth surface, at what angle it's likely ...
Ansis Māliņš's user avatar
27 votes
5 answers
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What is the origin of the dominant atmospheric nitrogen content in Earth's atmosphere?

Comparing the atmospheric compositions of Earth with our nearest neighbours: As the table shows, the Earth's atmospheric nitrogen concentration is 78%, compared to 3.8% for Venus and 2.7% for Mars ...
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26 votes
2 answers
982 views

Why do some planets have lots of $\mathrm{N_2}$ and others none?

Earth, Titan and Venus all have large amounts of $\mathrm{N_2}$ in their atmospheres. (In the case of Venus it's a small proportion, but Venus' atmosphere is very thick, and the total mass of $\mathrm{...
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25 votes
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What is the cause of the jet streams?

Jet streams are fast-flowing currents of air in our earth's atmosphere. An enormous amount of energy is necessary to keep a jet stream going. Where does this come from and why?
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How are Mauna Loa $\ce{CO2}$ monthly trends computed?

The problem I am trying to figure out how $\ce{CO2}$ concentration trends are computed in the data provided by the Earth Systems Research Laboratory Mauna Loa Observatory. The data contains monthly ...
Dima Chubarov's user avatar
24 votes
4 answers
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Why is the temperature *still* rising?

2015 is the hottest year on record, and the average temperature continues to rise. I don't understand why this continues, as (over the past twenty years) so much work was put into reducing Global ...
none's user avatar
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1 answer
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Why were both the sun and the moon red today?

Today was a normal day, except the sun and moon colors were strange. After 5pm, the sky was covered with cirrostratus-like translucent clouds and the sky was a blend of blue and grey. Everything ...
KKZiomek's user avatar
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3 answers
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Why is there a seasonal cycle to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere?

I'm doing some homework on the increase of $\mathrm{CO}_2$ in the atmosphere. On one of the graphs it shows the amount of $\mathrm{CO}_2$ peaks in May and has a low in November. Why is this? Shouldn't ...
Shannon Torstonson's user avatar
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3 answers
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How good were climate models of the 1990s at predicting the global temperature trends of the 2000s/2010s?

Was there a significant bias between the ensemble of climate models and the long-term temperature trends? What about spatial patterns?
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Is climate chaotic?

The atmosphere is a highly dynamical system, and exhibits many chaotical features. An operational weather forecasting model tries to model an initial value problem, in fact one of the most famous ...
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23 votes
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Is the color of the sky the same everywhere on earth?

Is the color of the sky at noon (local time) in, say, NY, Buenos Aires, London, Nairobi, Sydney, New Delhi and Tokyo the same? I choose the specific time of noon to exclude the twilight colors of the ...
MagTun's user avatar
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1 answer
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Where does wind come from?

Wind is (according to Wikipedia) the flow of gases on a large scale.On the surface of the Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. What forces would cause such a mass movement of air?
Ben A. Noone's user avatar
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23 votes
1 answer
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Why do Earth and Venus have different atmospheres?

Venus appears to be the closest to Earth in mass, density, size, etc. - though they clearly have different atmospheres. Why do Earth and Venus have different atmospheres?
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22 votes
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What are the major differences between weather models and climate models?

Some weather models include GFS (Global Forecast System) and NAM (North American Mesoscale Model). Some climate models include CCSM (Community Climate System Model) and the NASA GISS (Goddard ...
InquilineKea's user avatar
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1 answer
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Is Earth getting heavier or lighter?

There is meteoric material falling on the Earth constantly, as well as some protons and other light nuclei from the solar wind as well as from cosmic rays. At the same time Earth's atmosphere looses ...
uhoh's user avatar
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22 votes
1 answer
987 views

Significant difference between averaged wind speeds and averaged wind power density, for wind generation modelling?

Climate models outputs, particularly the reanalysis datasets, output wind speeds as zonal and meridional averages for the modelled time period (typically 1, 3 or 6 hours). So we get a 2-dimensional ...
410 gone's user avatar
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21 votes
2 answers
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Does Earth's air leak into space over time?

From my current understanding, Earth's atmosphere and air are held by the balance of two forces: 1. Earth's gravity and 2. Air pressure from air out to space. Is my understanding correct? So, do ...
Poomrokc The 3years's user avatar
21 votes
3 answers
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Does rain (temporarily) deplete the surrounding atmosphere of carbon dioxide?

CO2 in the air dissolves into rain water, making them slightly acidic. Is that enough to deplete the surrounding air out of CO2? If yes, how fast does this occur? Is it only with the first drops of ...
Gimelist's user avatar
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20 votes
7 answers
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Why doesn't the 71% water of the earth dry or evaporate?

Perhaps a simple question, we know 71% of the earth's surface contains water as oceans. If Earth's age is 4.543 billion years, then I guess it should be decreased with drying or should have been dried ...
Harry's user avatar
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20 votes
5 answers
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Is it true that a butterfly flapping its wings can result in a tornado in a distant location?

I have heard that extreme storm events can be caused simply by a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere in a distant location. Is it true that such a small disturbance in the air in one location can ...
Kenshin's user avatar
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20 votes
1 answer
295 views

What can we learn by studying lunar atmospheric tides?

Lunar atmospheric tides are likely insignificant for weather, although Guoqing (2005) asserts that The lunar revolution around the earth strongly influences the atmospheric circulation. They don't ...
gerrit's user avatar
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19 votes
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Where is the calmest place on Earth?

I have done some research online, and I've found out that Antarctica has the calmest winds (lowest maximum wind speed) recorded on Earth. However, it is uninhabitable for human life. Other very calm ...
Muze's user avatar
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3 answers
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Why does Earth have abundant oxygen in the atmosphere?

Because of photosynthesis, obviously. But then it's not actually that obvious after all, because photosynthesis is mostly balanced by respiration. We can summarise the processes of photosynthesis ...
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18 votes
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How do I explain why the Tibetan plateau is colder than lowlands at similar latitudes?

A common layman explanation for why does it get colder to higher elevations (considering only the troposphere here) qualitatively boils down to The Sun heats the Earth's surface and the Earth's ...
gerrit's user avatar
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18 votes
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Is there any evidence for higher air pressures in the geological past?

I was curious about how the Earth's overall air pressure has varied over time, and tried to take a look around the internet. However, Google pops up a lot of sites with questionable science proposing ...
kingledion's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
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What is the difference between roughness length and zero plane displacement?

Both roughness length $z_0$ and zero plane displacement $d$ seemed to be defined as the height above the ground at which wind speed theoretically becomes zero. But wind speed is also supposed to go to ...
environmentstudent's user avatar
17 votes
3 answers
17k views

Coriolis effect and Cyclones

The Coriolis force predicts that winds in the northern hemisphere should be deflected in a clockwise pattern and winds in the southern hemisphere should be deflected in an anti-clockwise pattern. Why ...
Kenshin's user avatar
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17 votes
1 answer
784 views

To what extent is hydroelectric power really renewable?

One of the more widespread "renewable" ways of generating power is by harnessing hydropower, i.e. by exploiting the movement of falling or flowing water. Some of the most commonly seen implementations ...
Newb's user avatar
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17 votes
1 answer
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Where do bad smells eventually go?

Suppose that I haven't taken a shower for a while, or haven't disposed of my trash, or something, and the room I've been in now stinks. Then, to remove the smell from the room (presumably after first ...
Ove's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
2k views

How is the equilibrium of 21% oxygen in Earth's atmosphere established?

The atmosphere is 21% oxygen. I assume that there must be an equilibrium between processes that produce oxygen (e.g. photosynthesis) and those that consume oxygen (e.g. aerobic respiration). Moreover,...
Irigi's user avatar
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17 votes
0 answers
764 views

How will climate change affect the entropy budget of the atmosphere?

The entropy per unit mass of moist air can be defined as $$s=(1-q_t)(C_{pd} \ln{T}-R_d\ln{p_d})+q_tC_l\ln{T} + \frac{q_vL_v}{T}-q_vR_v\ln{\mathcal{H}}$$ And in statistical equilibrium, the entropy ...
InquilineKea's user avatar
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16 votes
4 answers
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Why does warm air "hold" more moisture?

It is often explained that warm air holds more water because warmer water is less likely to condense. This and other explanations just seem to be circular arguments. If the warmer air picks up enough ...
Clark's user avatar
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16 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why is the Ozone Layer 'hole' more pronounced in the Southern Hemisphere?

Lots of people comment that you have to use more sunscreen in Australia compared to European countries due to the hole in the ozone layer. (Even for roughly equivalent latitudes). What would cause ...
hawkeye's user avatar
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16 votes
1 answer
590 views

How will cloud feedback effects on the climate change as the result of global warming?

So global warming will increase the tropospheric temperatures, which, in turn, would make the clouds higher than they otherwise would be. And higher clouds (especially cirrus clouds) tend to trap in ...
InquilineKea's user avatar
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16 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why (actually) is the night sky so bright in the city? How far up is that happening?

The recent news reported by the New York Times, the BBC and the NPR web sites (for example) as well as in the Iceland Review and Iceland Magazine sites, about the shutting-off of Reykjavik's ...
uhoh's user avatar
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16 votes
2 answers
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How is carbon distributed among the atmosphere, the oceans, the biomass and the unburnt fossil fuels?

In relation to my other question about carbon cycle and climate change, i would like to know some estimates of the carbon distribution among the atmosphere, the oceans, the biomass and the unburnt ...
Alexey's user avatar
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16 votes
3 answers
16k views

How much water is the atmosphere losing to space?

Up until recently, I was under a (wrong) impression that the amount of planetary cumulative water resources was finite as I believed its escape from the atmosphere was impossible. I believed that, ...
amphibient's user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
408 views

How will climate change affect the 3D distribution of lapse rate in the atmosphere?

The lapse rate is the rate at which temperature decreases with height. By "3D" distribution, I mean distribution across all latitudes, longitudes, and heights. Would climate change change the lapse ...
InquilineKea's user avatar
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16 votes
1 answer
125 views

Is the poleward migration of the maximum intensity of cyclones a result of tropical expansion or are there some other contributing factors?

In the recently published article by Kossin et al. (Nature, 2014, dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13278), they show that there is a trend toward poleward migration of the location of tropical cyclone (...
arkaia's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
6k views

Why are weather service atmospheric pressures systematically different from those I measure in Johannesburg?

I live in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg in South Africa. I have noticed while working with synoptic weather charts in geography class that the isobars indicate that Johannesburg should have ...
RaymondSWalters's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
3k views

What causes these banded clouds?

A set of banded clouds can be seen in MODIS imagery during several days in January and February over the Gulf of Maine. They tend to occur with very cold winds from the NW following storms. There are ...
arkaia's user avatar
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15 votes
3 answers
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What is El Niño Modoki?

What are the characteristics that distinguishes a El Niño Modoki from a "normal" El Niño? What are the effects of El Niño Modoki on atmospheric and oceanic processes? How does it affect weather ...
arkaia's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
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Why air do not suffer density stratification of its gaseous components?

The different gases that make up the air have different densities. So, naively, one would expect the heavier gasses to pool in the lower atmosphere and the light ones at the top. I asked myself this ...
Camilo Rada's user avatar
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