What is the Stratosphere? Look at the Sky

English Version

The date this article was published, June 8, is “Stratospheric Discovery Day.” On this day in 1902, French meteorologist Teslain de Boll discovered the “stratosphere.

Many of you may have heard the word “stratosphere” before, but may not know what it is. I am one of them. So, on this “Stratosphere Discovery Day,” let’s take the opportunity to become a little more familiar with the stratosphere.

To begin with, where is the boundary between the sky and space?

You have probably never thought about that. Actually, I have known about it for a while. Because I have curated both a sky-themed playlist and a space-themed one, I was interested and looked into it.

The Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) defines 100 km above sea level as the boundary between sky and space. Apart from that, the U.S. Air Force defines space from 80 km and up.

What part of the sky is stratospheric?

The atmosphere surrounding the earth is divided into several layers with different temperature distributions. From closest to the earth, the layers are troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere.

The area up to an altitude of about 11 km, where we are active, is called the troposphere, where the atmosphere is literally convecting. Above the troposphere is the stratosphere, which is the area between 11 and 50 km in altitude. Passenger aircraft normally fly around 10 kilometers above the ground, roughly at the boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere. So why don’t airliners fly further up in the stratosphere, where there is less air resistance and fewer weather-related disadvantages? The reason is that the air is too thin in the stratosphere to take in enough air to fire the engines, so they fly at the very edge of the troposphere and stratosphere.

There is a lot of “ozone” in the stratosphere

In the stratosphere, there is a large amount of ozone, especially at an altitude of about 20 to 25 km. As you all know, the ozone layer absorbs harmful ultraviolet rays. Therefore, if the ozone layer is destroyed, the amount of ultraviolet rays falling to the ground will increase, and the risk of adverse effects on life on the earth will increase. The effects of ultraviolet rays on the human body include the development of diseases such as skin cancer and cataracts, and the weakening of immune function. Thanks to the ozone layer, which absorbs the harmful ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun, life on earth is able to survive.

What is the weather like in the stratosphere?

Basically, it is “sunny”. Weather phenomena such as cloud formation and rainfall occur in the troposphere below the stratosphere. Water vapor from the earth’s surface becomes clouds in the troposphere, which then return to the earth’s surface as rain or snow, so there is almost no water vapor in the stratosphere to form clouds.

Look at the sky

In 1902, French meteorologist Teslain de Boll first discovered the stratosphere, which must have surprised him. He could not have imagined that there was a layer in the sky above us that was five times the height of an airliner. And beyond that, the universe stretches out endlessly. From the viewpoint of the universe, the thickness of the atmosphere is nothing more than a thin film covering the earth. When I think about it, I wonder how tiny we human beings are.

We are not usually aware of the stratosphere. So, in honor of the day the stratosphere was discovered, I looked up the stratosphere. And I realized once again that the stratosphere, including the ozone layer, is important in protecting the earth from ultraviolet rays. The sky and space are mysterious and full of fascination.

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Have a great day, everyone!


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